QCOSTARICA – The daily routine of 19 prison guards has changed completely since last September, their work no longer is within the walls of prisons, but rather on the streets, to monitor prisoners on probation.
That month the Policía Penitenciaria del Ministerio de Justicia y Paz (Penitentiary Police, Ministry of Justice and Peace) created the Unidad de Seguimiento, a unit in which the officials work in a way similar to parole officers in the United States and Canada.
The officers will not be patrolling the streets, rather, responding to anonymous tips and police suspicions of an inmate on probation on probation in any of the 12 semi-institutional care centres (CASI in Spanish), located all over the country.
Between September and January, a total of 892 prisoners were given the benefit of probation, to be housed at a CASI, to alleviate prison overcrowding.
Paul Bertozzi, director of the Policía Penitenciaria, said that if officers verify that the alert is real, they will pass on the information to a prison committee, that will decide if the prisoner will be returned to prison.
Bertozzi stressed that the prisons have not been left short-handed. The loss of the 19 officials to “work in the streets” is augmented by electronic devices, such as cameras located in strategic points. In the San Rafael Alajuela prison, 86 cameras keep an eye on prisoners. It is expected that during this year 170 cameras will be installed in the CAI, San Sebastian and Buen Pastor (women’s jail).