In Bolivia, where over 80 percent of prisoners languish in detention awaiting trial, inmates protest to urge President Evo Morales to sign a decree that would give amnesty to thousands of people jailed for lesser crimes. Mana Rabiee reports.
Prisoners in La Paz's San Pedro prison ... protesting to demand presidential pardons. It comes shortly after the government proposed a decree that would give amnesty to about 3,000 select inmates -- about a fifth of the prison population. The men want to make sure President Evo Morales will SIGN the amnesty -- angry that fewer than 17 percent of all prisoners have been sentenced... the great majority, held in pretrial detention. Protest Leader Victor Mendoza says they're not demanding pardons for serious crimes, like rape or homicide. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PROTEST LEADER, VICTOR MENDOZA, SAYING: "It is being asked for for small crimes. For seniors, those in their 60s and 70s that cannot live in the jails, for the mentally ill that are not doing well." The amnesty aims to reduce prison overcrowding, a major issue in Bolivia. San Pedro, for example, houses FIVE times more prisoners than it can accommodate. Morales IS expected to sign the decree.