Justice’s ruling forces overcrowded San José jail to relocate or release 370 inmates

October 10, 2013

Due to overcrowding, a San José judge, Roy Murillo Rodríguez, has ordered the Justice Ministry’s prison system to relocate or release 370 inmates at San Sebastián Prison, located south of the capital.

If there is no room at other prisons, the judge said prisoners closest to finishing their sentences should be released. 

San Sebastián Prison houses inmates who are serving preventive detention while awaiting trial, and it has the country’s highest rate of overcrowding (127 percent), with 1,247 prisoners. 

Following the order, Justice Ministry officials began reviewing inmates’ criminal records and searching for space in other prisons, although most of the country’s prison are severely overcrowded.

On average, Costa Rican jails are overpopulated by 40 percent, according the country’s prison system. 

Government officials are obliged to comply with the ruling in coming days, and Judge Murillo warned he would file charges at the Prosecutor’s Office against all officials involved if his order was ignored.

President Laura Chinchilla on Tuesday said her administration “would be strict in applying the court order,” adding that officials would use “restrictive criteria” to determine who would be released.

The president of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala III, Carlos Chinchilla, said Murillo has no authority to issue the order, and he is backed by other Sala III justices.

Justice Chinchilla said he would appeal to the Supreme Court next week to ask them to throw out Murillo’s ruling.

You may be interested

Looking back at Hurricane Maria: the initial impact
Weather
248 views
Weather
248 views

Looking back at Hurricane Maria: the initial impact

John McPhaul - December 12, 2017

As Costa Rica joins many other nations in looking back upon the devastating 2017 hurricane season, longtime Tico Times contributor…

Cold front claims fourth victim in Costa Rica
Weather
2207 views
Weather
2207 views

Cold front claims fourth victim in Costa Rica

Katherine Stanley - December 12, 2017

High winds claimed the life of a fourth victim in Costa Rica as the cold front that has been moving…

With Keylor Navas battling injuries, Real Madrid eyes January swoop for Bilbao goalie
Keylor Navas
673 views
Keylor Navas
673 views

With Keylor Navas battling injuries, Real Madrid eyes January swoop for Bilbao goalie

AFP - December 11, 2017

Real Madrid's first foray into the January transfer market will be to snap up Athletic Bilbao's promising goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga,…