Costa Rica’s Prison Overcrowding To Reach 45% Next Year

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The Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC), the Defensoría de los Habitantes (Ombudsman) and the public employee union, the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados (ANEP), have banded together asking presidenta Laura Chinchilla to declare a state of emergency in the country’s penitentiary system.

According to legislator and leader of the PAC legislative bloc, Carmen Muñoz, the call is for the government to take into account the serious problem of overcrowding in the national prisons, for an increase in penitentiary staff and improved infrastructure.

According to the director of the Defensa Pública (Publid Defender’s ofice), Marta Iris Muñoz, overcrowding will increase to 45% by next year. The director explained that this year only 600 spaces were created, when 4.000 or more are needed.

Currently, prison overcrowding in Costa Rica is at 37%, meaning that for every 100 spaces, there are 137 prisoners.

The Ombudsman, Ofelia Taitelbaum, last May sent a letter to the United Nations subcommittee on Prevention of Torture to discuss the need for the Organization of American States (OAS) to visit and inspect Costa Rica’s prison system.