Prison overcrowding in Costa Rica. File photo by Eyleen Vargas, La Nacion
Prison overcrowding in Costa Rica. File photo by Eyleen Vargas, La Nacion

QCOSTARICA – The government continues to defend the prisoner release program due to overcrowding, a report this morning by La Nacion says that according to the Ministerio Justicia numbers, 63.3% of the released are serving sentences for property crimes.

That is, 361 of the 570 prisoners moved to half-way houses across the country, have committed crimes such as robbery or aggravated robbery.

The other 33.9% (193 prisoners) are serving time for cultivating, possessing, selling or transporting illegal drugs, but not tied to criminal groups involved in drugs.

The remaining 2.8% (16 prisoners) were sentenced for fraud, illegal possession of weapons, reckless driving, using false documents and disobedience to authority, among other criminal acts.

The Ministerio de Justicia says that the relocation of the prisoners, in addition to reducing expenses, has alleviated prison overcrowding from 52.2% on September 15 to 46.3% as of November 2.

The decision has provoked reactions among senior government officials, oppositors to the plan and the general public, who are being assured by the Deputy Minister of Justice, Marco Feoli, not to be alarmed.

Feoli stressed that the process is one of movement of people and not a release. “No release of prisoners is occurring, what we have her is a relocation to a ‘semi-open’ from a ‘closed system. That is what is happening,” says Feoli.

Stay up to date with the latest stories by signing up to our newsletter, or following us on Facebook.