Costa Rican authorities are looking to transfer 180 prisoners from San José’s Buen Pastor Prison after heavy rains and mudslides made a section of the prison uninhabitable.
The women’s prison sits on the banks of the Rio Cañas, which has been swelling under recent intense rainfall and threatens to swallow a prison wall.
As most prisons in the country are already at capacity, the Justice Ministry is currently pondering where the inmates could go.
“The 2010 rainy season began very forcefully,” said Justice Minister Hernando Paris, which has “increased the urgency” for the relocation.
The move could have benefits, he said, as women would most likely be moved to places closer to their homes and families. “Concentrating the women in one central prison impedes many families from visiting,” he said.
Paris admitted that there is no immediately available space where they could be moved, as nearly every prison is full. The latest statistics show that 9,304 people are serving sentences in the country, in a system with a capacity for 8,470 (TT, June 18).
Eventually the prison system has to turn its focus away from building more capacity and toward prevention methods, said Paris.
“If we construct 1,000 prisons, we will fill all 1,000 prisons if the effort is not accompanied (by prevention).”