Here is a chilling piece of news, 73% of the prisoners chosen to be released early from prison, to combat prison overcrowding, have a common track record: have committed a violent crime.
The numbers indicate that National Institute of Criminology – Instituto Nacional de Criminología (INC) – choice of 240 of the 331 prisoners released on conditions during this past week were in prison for aggravated robbery. The rest on drug related charges, fraud, reckless driving, theft and misdemeanors.
One of the released is is Darío Navarro Grijalba, who was let out of the Puntarenas prison in El Roble, last Wednesday and was recaptured yesterday (Tuesday), charged with the murder.
Only three days after his release, 59 year old William Salazar Alvarado lost his life at the hands of Navarro.
According to police, Navarro and three others held up a chicken vending store in Puntarenas, shooting Salazar in the process. The robbery of the chicken store, Pollos Real and murder of Salazar occurred Saturday night.
Costa Rica’s Penal Code classifies aggravated robbery as a crime committed by two or more people or if violence was involved or a firearm was used.
Jorge Rodríguez, deputy minister of Justicia, said all cases of aggravated theft were fully analyzed. “We excluded the most violent”, said Rodríguez.
However, the head of the country’s judicial investigation police – the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ), Francisco Segura, expressed publicly his concern over the situation.
Segura’s concerns are over recidivism of the released. The Justice ministry, however, says their de-institutionalization programs has an 85% success rate.
The prisoner release was on the order of judge Roy Murillo fo the ‘Ejecución de la Pena’ court, who felt the overcrowding of the San Sebastián jail in San José was inhumane. The San Sebastián is a holding centre on the south side of San José where prisoners are awaiting trial or sentencing and overpopulation is at 79.5%.
The INC says of the 331 released, 100 were from La Reforma in Alajuela (a prison holding some of the country’s worst criminals).
As of yesterday, 280 prisoners had already been released.