The B area of La Reforma prison in Alajuela, houses 617 inmates, when its actual capacity is 352 inmates. | JORGE ARCE
Currently, 617 prisoners are housed in the cell block B of La Reforma prison in Alajuela, when its actual capacity is 352. Photo Jorge Arce, La Nacion.

(QCOSTARICA) By order of a judge, the Ministry of Justice is forced to remove 200 prisoners from B block of the La Reforma prison, Costa Rica’s maximum security prison, located in San Rafael de Alajuela.

The inmates will be relocated in other prisons or, well, in semi-institutional care centres (half-way houses), where they would have to sleep one or more nights a week.

The ruling by Xinia Solís Pomares of the Ejecución de la Pena de Alajuela, criticized the overcrowding at the prison, the judge explaining that there were 617 prisoners in a cell block with a capacity of 352.

“Prolonged confinement ends up affecting the functioning of the senses, but in cramped conditions, sensory distortions are even higher,” said the judge.

The judge’s order also bans “indefinitely” more prisoners to the detention centre. And in addition to the relocation of the prisons, the Justice ministry is also required to make repairs to area, within a maximum period of one month.

Judge Solis, in criticism of prison administration, added “it seems that the (prison) administration paints the picture of a situation that is hopeless and resigns itself in considering that it is not responsible for the uncontrolled growth of the prison population.”

Reynalso Villalobos, director of Adaptacion Social (prisons), said that they will try to relocate some of the prisoners (of cell block B) to other cell blocks of the prison.

This is not the first time a judge has ordered a prisoner release or even the closing of a prison.

In August 2015 and in April of this year, the Ministry of Justice attempted to resolve prison overcrowding by releasing the “not dangerous” prisoners to halfway houses. This caused a negative reaction from legislators, the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) and the public.

Judge orders the closure of San Sebastian prison for being 'giant black hole'.
In July of this year a Judge ordered the closure of San Sebastian jail in San Jose for being a ‘giant black hole’.

On July 20 of this year, judge Roy Murillo of the Ejecución de la Pena de San Jose ordered the closure of the Unidad de Admisión de San Sebastián  – the San Jose jail.  The jail is exclusively for the dentention of persons accused of a crime and waiting trial and the convicted waiting for a spot in the prison system. The San Jose jail has an actual capacity of 559 people, but at July 6, had 1,278 prisoners. Of that population, 1,144 were waiting their day in court and 134 already had a conviction.
Source: La Nacion