Ecuadoran President Guillermo Lasso granted a pardon Monday to inmates with serious illnesses and those jailed for traffic violations to alleviate overcrowding in the country’s prisons after recent riots left more than 300 dead.
The pardons will benefit seriously or terminally ill prisoners and those involved in traffic offenses that did not cause injury or death, the communications ministry said in a statement, without specifying how many would be released.
The measure is part of a government plan to combat prison violence due to disputes between criminal gangs linked to drug trafficking.
It was announced on November 14 after bloody clashes between rival gangs left at least 68 dead at a prison in the city of Guayaquil, with inmates attacking each other with guns, machetes and explosives.
The government plan includes the use of the armed forces and police to maintain order at prisons.
Ecuador’s prisons have been the scene of several massacres including a September riot — one of the worst in Latin American history — that left 119 inmates dead.
The country has 65 prison facilities with capacity for 30,000 people but they house almost 39,000 inmates, including 15,000 who have not been sentenced.