Monday 17 May 2021

Costa Rica Criminal Court Judges Required To Visit Inmates They Sentenced To Preventive Detention

Overcrowding is typical in Costa Rica's jails. In the case of San Sebastian, in San José, there are 1.140 prisoners in the space designed for 600. Photo: Marcelo Bertozzi, La Nacion
Overcrowding is typical in Costa Rica’s jails. In the case of San Sebastian, in San José, there are 1.140 prisoners in the space designed for 600. Photo: Marcelo Bertozzi, La Nacion

QCOSTARICA — Sleeping on the floor, having to buy your own mat, braving the cold of night and overcrowding is daily life in Costa Rica’s jails, a fact that is now being seen first hand and reported on by the same judges responsible for ordering the incarceration of the many in the jail system.

“The defendant says he braves the cold of night, therefore, gets a cold continuously. He paid ¢4.000 colones for mat and sleeps on the floor, while suffering because his two children depend on him financially,” are the notes of a Puriscal criminal court judge of his visit of a suspect he ordered to preventive detention (remand) in the San Sebastian jail in San José. The visit was on September 26.

- Advertisement -

The judge, whose identity is being withheld, noted “overcrowding is evident; the heat, unbearable.” In this case, the judge noted that the prisoner is being held in a cell that is meant house 30, but in reality holds 52.

The visit by the judge to the jail is due to a regulation of last July 28 by the Corte Plena (Superior Court), requiring criminal court judges who hand down preventive detention sentences, to visit every three months, those they incarcerated. At the end of September there were 2.894 such prisoners in the system.

The requirement of the Superior Court is for criminal court judges to check whether the conditions of detention respect fundamental rights and provide a quarterly report.

But not all is going as the Superior Court had expected.

- Advertisement -

Up to October, only seven judges have obeyed the provision. The seven work in the criminal courts of Puriscal, Liberia, Buenos Aires, the Juzgado Penal Juvenil de Cañas and the Tribunales de Juicio de San Carlos and Puntarenas. The visits were to the  San Sebastián, La Marina, Zurquí, Liberia, El Roble and Pérez Zeledón jails, between September and October.

The Criminal Court of San Carlos submitted to the Superior Court its concerns of inmates very time a judge made a visit and their condition does not improve.

But the Superior Court said that visit requirement will be maintained.

Judge Patricia Solano of the Tribunal de Juicio de San José, one of several judges interviewed by La Nacion, argues that close contact with a suspect in prison threatens the purity of the process. She asks rhetorically, what would a victim of rape feel to learn that the judge is direct contact with the suspect?

For her, the visits can lead to either sympathy or antipathy, which affects objectivity. She added that the judges cannot order Adaptación Social (state prison management) how to manage a prison.

Juan Carlos Pérez, coordinator of the San José court office, noted that prisoner rights groups and the Defensoría de los Habitantes (Ombudsman) review prison conditions.

- Advertisement -

The judges, with the support of the Asociación Costarricense de la Judicatura (Acojud) – Costa Rican Association of the Judiciary, has asked the Superior Court to suspend the visits.

In Costa Rica, preventive detention is used by the courts to order a person to “preventive” imprisonment of 12 months if the person is considered a “flight risk”, but if the case is declared “complex”, it can be increased to up to three years and a half of imprisonment without conviction, or even more in some cases, while the case is under investigation. In preventive detnetion, there are no charges filed and no trial date set.


- Advertisement -

We strive for accuracy in its reports. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, send us an email. The Q reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it’s accuracy.

"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Related Articles

11,773 older adults rejected the covid-19 vaccine; another 441 missed the second dose

QCOSTARICA - A total of 11,773 older adults (defined here as...

Guide to the COVID Travel Restrictions for Central America

QCOSTARICA - A country-by-country guide to the current Covid travel restrictions...


Space tourism is here – 20 years after the first stellar tourist, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin plans to send civilians to space

For most people, getting to the stars is nothing more than a dream. But on May 5, 2021, the 60th anniversary of the first...

Today’s Covid News: 32 deaths in the last 24 hours; 3,039 news cases

QCOSTARICA - Costa Rica reported this Thursday the highest number of deaths associated with covid-19 in a single day, since the start of the...

Natalia Carvajal tells of her arrest at San Jose airport with false proof of covid-19

Q MAGAZINE - he former Miss Costa Rica and television personality, Natalia Carvajal, broke the silence of her arrest several weeks ago at the...

Why Colombian protesters are taking to the streets

QCOLOMBIA – For the past two weeks, mass protests that started on April 28, have rocked Colombia, leaving at least 42 people dead and hundreds...

Health expands group 3 vaccination for people from 16 to 58 years

QCOSTARICA - Adolescents of 16 and 17 years old with some risk factor in case of falling ill with covid-19 will be part of...

Today’s Covid news: We are almost a death every hour

QCOSTARICA - The last seven days (May to May 11) have been bitterly deadly for the country, with 146 people dying from covid-19. According to...

New restrictions outrage hospital staff while business applauds “balance”

QCOSTARICA - The measures announced by the Government to reduce COVID-19 infections and hospital saturation unleashed a wave of reproaches, from one sector, and...

Guide to the COVID Travel Restrictions for Central America

QCOSTARICA - A country-by-country guide to the current Covid travel restrictions for Central America guidelines during the COVID-19 crisis. Costa Rica (open) Costa Rica opened its...

San Jose airport how has rapid covid-19 testing for travelers

QCOSTARICA -  Travelers who require a negative covid-19 test to enter their destination country may now get tested at the Juan Santamaría (San Jose)...


Get our daily newsletter with the latest posts directly in your mailbox. Click on the subscribe and fill out the form. It's that simple!

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.