The president of the Chilean bishops’ conference is calling for prison reform in the country after 81 inmates died in a fire at the San Miguel Prison on Dec. 8.
Conference President Bishop Ricardo Ezzati called the fire a “sad tragedy for the country.”
The fire broke out at the prison located in the country's capital city of Santiago during a fight among inmates. Eighty-one people were killed and 14 were left injured. Chilean officials said overcrowding was one of the main reasons for the high death toll, as the prison only has room for 900 inmates but is holding 1,900.
The bishop urged government officials to make the issue a priority, noting that in addition to the problem of overcrowding, “prisons are often violent and dehumanizing environments that make the rehabilitation of inmates impossible.”