The border town of Ciudad Juarez often makes headlines for being one of the cities in Mexico most affected by drug cartel violence. More than 100 inmates were married last week in a mass ceremony at a prison in Ciudad Juarez. The couples sat in rows upon hundreds of folding chairs, many of the women holding roses and wearing dresses. Their grooms wore dress shirts and slacks. The inmates and their new wives hugged and conversed during and after the ceremony.
The BBC reports that the mass ceremony is part of a larger program aimed at helping inmates incorporate back into the normal lifestyle once they leave prison. The wedding was held on Friday at the State Center for Social Rehabilitation and was one of the largest ceremonies any prison in Mexico has hosted over the years.
Eduardo Duran, the director at the Public Prosecutor’s Office, told reporters that marriage and family are considered key components of reinserting inmates into society once their sentences are over. One inmate, Andres Dominguez, told NTD Television, “When we get out of here we’re going to move forward and not get involved in any problems. It’s better to remake your family and remake your life.”
Ciudad Juarez has had a particularly tough time in the current drug wars. Back in 2010, some news agencies estimated that around 3,000 people had been murdered in connection with drug cartel activity. Many social programs have been implemented in the city, including President Calderon’s call for greater employment opportunities.
President Calderon told reporters he felt the reported 45% drop in murders in Ciudad Juarez between 2010 and 2011 was an indication that the social programs his government implemented were actually having an effect on violence in the region.
The program to encourage marriage for inmates is a central part of this larger social and employment reform program, although it is unlikely to stop cartel violence for the most part. Some analysts have suggested that the drop in violence at Ciudad Juarez is only the result of the encroaching Sinaloa cartel winning over the territory.
Photo Credit: Thelmadatter