Honduran prisons receive the rest of their funding from taxes that inmates pay from the work they do inside. At Comayagua, prisoners grew corn and beans and raised fish and chicken on the 36 acres of farmland surrounding the facility.
Dani Rodriguez, a police inspector, was named director of Comayagua prison on Feb. 15, a day after the fire. He has not been able to change much.
‘‘The state transferred 180,000 lempiras ($9,000), and by selling some of the scrap metal after the fire we got 32,000 lempiras ($1,500), and the TV show they did for our benefit left us with a huge plastic check which they used for the photo, but we haven’t received the money yet,’’ Rodriguez said.
As in all Honduran prisons, Rodriguez supplements scant government funds with the taxes he collects from inmates, who run their own businesses from inside. With his inmate population down by half after the fire, so is his budget, about $1,000 for food and maintenance.
Garcia knows the difficulties from running the Juticalpa prison.
‘‘We receive water for a couple of hours a day thanks to a neighbor who lets us connect to his tank, but the water is not always clean. Sometimes a fire truck will supply some water as a donation from the mayor’s office,’’ said Gonzalo de Jesus, the prison administrator who works with Garcia.
Roberto Urquia, who works in the Juticalpa prison infirmary, brings his own water and boils it to make is safe.
‘‘About 25 percent of the inmates have chronic gastrointestinal problems,’’ he said.
On January 16, Honduras’ Congress approved building a new prison at Comayagua with $60 million borrowed from a local bank.
‘‘They had the ability to do such business while the inmates have no water or medication,’’ said Odalis Najera, commissioner for the National Office to Prevent Torture, an organization created by the U.N. to monitor Honduran prisons. ‘‘The situation that each and every one of them is living is equivalent to torture.’’