La Reforma prison in Alajuela
La Reforma prison in Alajuela

The Corte Plena rejected the idea that prisoners be required to work while serving out their sentence, as proposed by a bill promoted by the Movimiento Libertario.

The judges, in their ruling, felt that the condition could be interpreted as “forced labour” and noted that the system could not provide work for all prisoners.

“Costa Rica cannot risk being seen as a state that imposes forced labour: inmates must be given the chance to work, as an option, but should never be confused with forced labour”, stressed judge José Manuel Arroyo.

Currently, prisoners can work voluntarily within the penal system, in return they receive one day off their sentence for every two worked.

Legislator Carlos Gutiérrez Gómez proposed the legislation back in 2009. However, the legislative path for this proposal has been slow, encountering road blocks along the way, like that of the Comisión de Seguridad y Narcotráfico (Narcotics Safety Commission) that gave a negative opinion in 2011.

Currently the bill sits at number 160 on the legislative agenda.

In the study received by the Court, the judges also found that the proposal to change from two to five days of work for one off sentence would not motivate workers to join the voluntary work program.

Source: La Nacion

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