QCOSTARICA – The Government is defending itself from criticism of the plan free up to 1,000 prisoners in order to reduce overcrowding.
If the plan is adopted, the selected prisoners will only be required to sleep a few nights a week in prison, the rest of the time being on the outside, according to information by the Minister of Communication, Mauricio Herrera and the Deputy Minister of Justice, Marco Feoli.
“This is not freedom, rather a transfer,” said Herrera, while Feoli insists this is a “normal process” which has been applied for several years.
According to figures from the Justice Ministry, so far this year, 1,400 prisoners have been “transferred” and between 2009 and 2013, a total of 8,000.
Feoli explained that very stringent requirements have to be met for a prisoner to be transferred to another system. The deputy minister added that the police had been in place for the past decade and “people should not panic” since only 1% of those who leave prison relapse into criminal behavior.
“It’s not about releasing prisoners. The term is absolutely wrong. What we are doing is a relocation of people from a closed system to a semi-open one,” explained Feoli.
Casa Presidencial (Government House) said today that some 4,500 people are currently serving their time this way.
Strongly vocal against the government plan is criminal lawyer and former Ministro de Seguridad Pública (1994-1996), former Minister of Justice (1996-1997) and president of Costa Rica bar association, Juan Diego Castro, who says the decision is “a slap in the face of all Costa Ricans.”
“The deputy minister says we are ignorant because we oppose the freeing of the convicted”, said Castro.
Also, at least three of the murders occurring in the past few weeks were of men recently released from prison. The most recent was one of the 5 executions this past weekend.