Virus spreads fear through Latin America’s unruly prisons

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — The spreading specter of the new coronavirus is shaking Latin America’s notoriously overcrowded, unruly prisons. The Puente Alto prison in Chile’s capital has had the largest of Latin America’s largest prison virus outbreaks so far, with more than 300 reported cases. Latin America’s prisons hold 1.5 million inmates, and the facilities are often quasi-ruled by prisoners themselves because of corruption, intimidation and inadequate guard staffs. There is often little soap and water and cell blocks are crowded. So far, national officials have reported close to 1,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among inmates and prison staff around the region.