Partial Freedom

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Far from the overcrowding and the dismal living conditions that prevail in prison, the Nicoya Semi Institutional Center (Centro Semi Institucional de Nicoya) is located in an open agricultural property of 58 hectares (143 acres). It belongs to one of the partial-containment programs of the Costa Rican Penitentiary System.

This institution currently works as a bridge for inmates from areas of Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula who meet certain basic requirements such as good behavior to reintegrate into the system and finish their sentence outside of the prison bars.

The center has a population of 179 people convicted of crimes such as aggravated robbery, rape, organ trafficking, drug trafficking or homicide, located in two units: 45 of them live and work in the center Sunday through Thursday and travel to their homes on weekends to look for work. Tasks at the center are rotated and some receive incentives of 20,000 colones (about $37.75) monthly.

The remaining 134 convicts are already in their communities and attend technical control once or twice a week.

This trust system provides certain tools that allow the convict to find a financial income and avoid the recurrence of crime. But oftentimes economic helplessness, social pressure and drug use are a burden that some can’t handle, leading them directly to committing another crime. So far this year, 12 convicts have dropped out of the program.