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Articles Home - Jail: Life behind bars
In the Dominican Republic anybody can easily land in jail for the simplest of crimes and the system is sometimes used by the government and police officials to punish people for personal vendettas. By some estimates 80% of prisoners in jail have not yet been sentenced. Many have no arrest records since they have been sent there by powerful people and on a notice even the President can send somebody to jail without a warrant. The disparities and inequalities of the Dominican jail system are many and in this country you could easily spend 10 years for stealing an egg or spend only days for murder, depending on who you are. In the Dominican Republic who you know is the ticket out of any situation. If you have committed a crime in the Dominican Republic, or have been arrested on a whim, for no real purpose, calling friends in high places. Usually, with a phone call from a friend who is a politician, a known businessman, a high ranking police officer or military personnel or someone who has a lot of connections will get you out of trouble. Only if the crime you are being charged with is related to drugs will you not receive any help.

The process
Once you have been arrested you are taken to the Palacio De Justicia, Palacio de La Policia and or local police station jails where you can spend at most 15 days in interrogation with the Juez de Instruccion, though with deep pockets this can be avoided. Once the judge classifies your case to criminal or penal, then you are sent to formal jails to wait for your day in court. Upon arrest you are fingerprinted and photographed, but with a good bribe you can avoid having this done and you can end up in jail though your police file would not exist. This is why many prisoners are lost in the system. After release you can buy off your police file for barely $500 pesos. Torture is part of the menu at many police stations, where the hardest criminals land first. But you can easily get loose if you have heavy bribe money. The best way to get out is thru direct bribes to the judges and district attorneys, or even government officials connected with jails.

Corruption
A "no a lugar" or discharge can be bought from almost any judge. Corruption in the jail and judicial systems in the Dominican Republic are rampant and drug dealers, thieve and white collar criminals have almost a free pass to what they feel, as long as they have the money to get themselves out of trouble. Discharges, depending on the particular crime, can range from US$10,000 and up, though lesser crimes can demand much less. “Bag men” are used to collect the money, which in addition is spread among district attorneys so they don't appeal the discharge.

Communications in jail
Cell phones with monthly fees can be obtained for $2000-$3000 a month. The lines are stolen from government offices systems which are never checked for counterfeit use and the bills are paid without monitoring. However, many private cell phone lines are tapped by Najayo hackers. Shares were also sold, including to people outside jail. The cell minute is sold for as much as $25 a minute and cell phone couriers walk around the hallways selling cell minutes to inmates. Prisoners also get calling card numbers from family members outside if they are able to bring their own cell phone.

Housing
Once you arrive in a jail like Najayo, money is your ticket to health and safety. If you have it, spend it well. The first thing you have to do is to purchase a "Goleta" or makeshift-jail-cell and special privileges which are sold like products. Goletas are sold like real estate. There are luxury suites, like the ones at "las conyugales", "especiales" or "los veteranos" cells. The conyugales are for up to 4 prisoners (you have to take turns to have sex with your partners). “Las especiales” can be individualized, just like los veteranos, and turned into small palaces with oriental rugs, mirrored walls, air conditioned, electric plants, direct connections with the electric company, TV, radio, fans and king-size beds. There is a jail furniture maker that sells pine drawer type beds for $4000 and up or you can bring your own. To bring your own furniture you have to pay a bribe to the warden for every item. For instance, to "import" a TV you may pay up to $1000 pesos and a fan could cost you around $300. You can connect into a private electric network if you have $1000. Owning a Goleta is as good as buying true real estate. Upon release, you can sell it with its improvements and increase in value. You can also buy several units and rent them for as much as $1000 a week. A small token has to be paid to the warden from your earnings. Open goletas can be purchased. These are built directly into the walls, like benches. Goletas are painted in colorful designs. Some are duplexes with two floors. Your goleta is totally private and you can bring you wife, girlfriend or import girls from local whore houses and spend as much as 4 hours in intimate privacy.

Sex
If you have money, "llaveros" can bring you women from the women's prison. There are many foreign women, most in for drug charges. There are private visits on Fridays to the women's jail and to assure you a sure date just bring a plastic chair. This will help you sit a woman prisoner in your lap, lift her skirt and have sex with her without the guards bothering you. But, this to will cost you and you must pay $100 for the right to go to these parties.
 
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