Juan Carlos Octavio Pinto Quintanilla

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1998


This profile was prepared when Juan Carlos Octavio Pinto Quintanilla was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Juan Carlos Pinto is addressing the gap in Bolivia between the statutes for protecting prisoners's rights and the failure to implement these laws. Juan Carlos uses his experiences during five years in jail as a political prisoner to educate and organize prisoners's groups. His program aims to heighten prisoners's awareness of their legal rights, help articulate their demands for change, and provide educational opportunities to improve their prospects for reintegration upon release. Beyond forming individual prisoner groups, Juan Carlos is opening avenues of communication between Bolivia's 34 penitentiaries to create a unified network of prison organizations which collectively can demand reform of the judicial system.
In order to bridge the gap between those "inside" and those "outside" of the prison system, Juan Carlos provides prisoners with a network of outside supporters. He engages ex-prisoners, family members, and civil society groups to help reintegrate prisoners into society and push for reforms in the criminal justice system. In addition, he uses media exposure and a multi-faceted coalition of church groups, politicians, and public figures committed to prison reform to increase the demand for change among the general population of Bolivia. Drawing on his deep-seated belief that the backbone of democracy is a functioning and responsive justice system, Juan Carlos strives to create change in the country's judicial and penitentiary systems by putting prisoners at the center of the struggle.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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