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Honduras: Penal System
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > The Penal System and Human Rights > Penal System


Honduras has two penal systems -- one for females and another for males. The female system is connected administratively to the National Board of Social Welfare (Junta Nacional de Bienestar Social), which has authority over the Female Center of Social Adaptation (Centro Femenino de Adaptación Social -- Cefas), all of which forms part of the Ministry of Work (Ministerio de Trabajo). The National Directorate of Penal Establishments (Dirección Nacional de Establecimientos Penales), which is under the authority of the Ministry of Government and Justice (Ministerio de Governación y Justicia), is responsible for the national penitentiary and department and local jails that house male inmates. Both systems are regulated in accordance with the Law of Criminal Rehabilitation (Decree Law Number 173-84), in effect since March 1985; the constitution of 1982; and the penal code adopted in 1983, which replaced the outdated 1906 code.

Generally, inmates serving prison sentences of three years or more are assigned to the national penitentiary in Tegucigalpa, inmates with prison sentences of less than three years but more than ninety days are assigned to a department jail; sentences of ninety days or less are carried out in local jails. In 1986 the penal system housed a total of 3,635 inmates; of these, only 57 were female. Most female inmates -- regardless of the length of their prison sentences -- are incarcerated in the Cefas penitentiary near Tegucigalpa. One department jail is located in each of the eighteen departments, except for El Paraíso, which has two, and Francisco Morazán, which has none.

Prison facilities in Honduras are overcrowded, and services are inadequate to meet the needs of all inmates. Lighting, ventilation, and sanitary conditions in most cases are poor. Medical and psychiatric care is poor to nonexistent. Inmates can order medicine from outside the institution but must find their own means to pay for it. Inmates also must supply their own clothing, towels, soap, and other toiletries. Television, sport, and other recreation facilities are not provided, except at Cefas. Conjugal privileges are allowed, however, and some inmates receive basic literacy instruction. The daily diet for inmates is rice, beans, tortillas, and coffee. Individual inmates commonly bribe guards and prison administrators for better food and other amenities.

Data as of December 1993

Last Updated: December 1993

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Honduras was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Honduras Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 154 of 160


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