Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Fight for ‘Alcatraz of Caribbean’ in Puerto Rico

< Previous Page

In 1979, inmates filed a class-action lawsuit against Puerto Rico’s government that exposed the prison’s overcrowding and other problems, leading to its 2004 closure. But inmate relocation was slow, and the government paid $250 million in federal fines in a 33-year-old legal fight.

Ivan Rios, the official overseeing the demolition from the former guards’ barracks, said plans call for saving some elements, including the prison facade, marked with the words "Hate the Crime and Pity the Criminal."

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

But Rios, interim executive director of the Puerto Rico Science, Research and Technology Trust, also called for turning the prison’s negative past into a positive future. The agency owns the former prison and the surrounding property, which is slated to be the site of a $196 million-dollar cancer treatment center scheduled to open in April 2016.

"We certainly believe that a collective memory of that magnitude involving negative things and death should give way to a collective memory of science, of progress, of innovation," Rios said.

One of the prison’s walls is currently being demolished, with backhoes eating into the peeling, bone-white structure. The government said it removed asbestos and lead at the site and demolished the prison’s former hospital and administrative offices nearby.

Belen said several people involved in the project were devastated to learn it was too expensive to save the entire prison.

"We all went into this project with hopes of restoring the building," she said. "But we all realized that it would be an irresponsible alternative in terms of security and cost."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.