San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nicaragua paroles 8,000 convicts to clear prisons

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Nicaragua has released more than 8,000 convicts to parole and sent 94 foreigners to finish sentences in their home countries since 2014, easing overcrowding in prisons, the government said Monday.

All 8,149 Nicaraguan prisoners given conditional release had been put behind bars with light sentences of five years or less, the government said in a statement.

It gave no details on the foreign convicts deported beyond the following figures: 58 sent home in 2014, 31 in 2015 and five so far this year.

The releases were approved by the Justice Ministry, national prosecutors and the police, and were part of “a humanitarian and reconciliation policy.”

Authorities did not say what the remaining prison population was in the Central American nation.

However, according to the nongovernmental Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, there were more than 10,500 Nicaraguan and foreign prisoners last year — double the capacity of the country’s penitentiaries.

Last week, the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua criticized rights violations in Nicaragua prisons, citing abuse, long periods of incarceration without right to sentence review and overcrowding.

See: PHOTOS: Nicaragua’s Momotombo Volcano still putting on a show

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I wished the reporter would have dug deeper to find out the types of crimes the released criminals were convicted of. Some of these convicts could be violent. For example, in Costa Rica one could be sentenced to prison from 1 to 6 years for voluntary manslaughter, 3 to 10 years for torture, 5 to 10 years for arson or bombing, etc. So, if penalties in Nicaragua are similar to Cista Rica, the sentence alone does not tell us what we need to know in order to judge the actions of the Nicaraguan authirities.

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