Humberto Prado

Ashoka Fellow
Caracas, Venezuela
Fellow Since 2004


This profile was prepared when Humberto Prado was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Over the past decade, the level of violence in Venezuela’s prisons has reached a disaster level. With a population of 20,000 and growing, the system is at its breaking point and inmates are leaving prisons even more criminalized than when they entered. As a former inmate with an acute understanding of the issues, Humberto is restructuring the entire system from within. He is using his extensive personal knowledge to bring about reform: institutionalizing the training available to prisoners; involving citizen sector organizations and various outside institutions; and reshaping prison governance with a focus on decentralization and education for prison guards. Thanks to language Humberto was asked to draft, there is now a mandate in Venezuela’s 1999 Constitution in support of his vision.
Meanwhile he is preparing inmates and their families to reenter society as responsible citizens and is educating them about how to exercise their rights. In order to assist their transition out of a criminal mindset, Humberto is building ties between the inmate community and business people, citizen organizations, doctors, nurses, lawyers, universities, and churches. These connections provide important resources for rehabilitating inmates: health care, legal assistance, educational services, job training and improved alimentation. He is developing a consortium of observatories that includes four other Andean countries to share strategies for lowering rates of recidivism. His goal is to convert Venezuela’s dismal prison system into a world-class model; his growing network of allies reinforces his view that Venezuelan prisoners are a matter of concern for all of Venezuelan society—not just the prison system.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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