• Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Costa Rica’s early release of 240 inmates convicted of aggravated robbery sparks controversy

October 30, 2013

A total of 240 of the 331 inmates selected by Costa Rica’s National Institute of Criminology (INC) to be released in coming days from various Costa Rican prisons were convicted of aggravated assaults, the daily La Nación reported on Wednesday.

Those 331 are part of 370 convicts who must be relocated from various prisons throughout the country following a ruling by San José judge Roy Murillo that aims at reducing overcrowding at San Sebastián Preventive Prison, south of San José.

Murillo based his ruling on the fact that San Sebastián, established to house inmates serving preventive detention while awaiting trial or sentencing, currently has the country’s highest rate of overcrowding at 79.5 percent.

At a press conference on Tuesday following President Laura Chinchilla’s weekly Cabinet meeting, the president attributed the origins of the situation “to successful work by police, judges and prosecutors to get criminals off the streets.”

According to data from the country’s prison system, Costa Rica’s prisons have a capacity for 10,046 inmates, but the current population is 13,800.

Of the 331 inmates proposed by the INC, 73 percent were convicted for aggravated robbery, 18 percent for sale or possession of drugs and 9 percent for scams, reckless driving, theft and other minor crimes.

Justice Vice Minister Jorge Rodríguez told La Nación that officials analyzed every case of robbery to establish the severity of the crimes. 

“The country’s Penal Code considers a robbery as aggravated if committed by two or more people, if violence was used, or if a firearm was used. So we excluded the most violent inmates,” Rodríguez said

He added that inmates were excluded if they were convicted of sexual offenses, murder, human trafficking, drug trafficking, organized crime or domestic violence.

But one of the prisoners released is Darío Navarro Grijalva, who left a prison in the Pacific province of Puntarenas last week. On Monday, he was arrested as a suspect in the murder of a restaurant owner in that province last Friday. A six-month preventive prison sentence is now added to his previous conviction, and he awaits a new trial for murder and aggravated robbery.

Judicial Investigation Police Director Francisco Segura said he is concerned about the situation: “I would expect the INC study to be as detailed as possible to avoid recidivism of people being released.”

Judge Murillo’s ruling earlier this month ordered the Justice Ministry’s prison system to relocate the inmates, adding that “if there is no room at other prisons, prisoners closest to finishing their sentences should be released.”

He also warned he would file charges at the Prosecutor’s Office against all officials involved if his order was ignored.

You may be interested

Fight against Covid a ‘countrywide achievement,’ Costa Rica says at commemoration
Costa Rica
1232 views
Costa Rica
1232 views

Fight against Covid a ‘countrywide achievement,’ Costa Rica says at commemoration

The Tico Times - March 8, 2021

The Costa Rican government on Sunday aired a national broadcast in commemoration of the anniversary of the first coronavirus case…

How 6 Exotic Animals in Costa Rica Got Their Names
Environment and Wildlife
6369 views
Environment and Wildlife
6369 views

How 6 Exotic Animals in Costa Rica Got Their Names

The Tico Times - March 7, 2021

When it comes to pointing out animals, some people in Costa Rican can be extremely unspecific. Sometimes it seems that…

Slothy Sunday: Restrictions are lifted, now what? See sloths, what else!
Sloth Sundays
2563 views
Sloth Sundays
2563 views

Slothy Sunday: Restrictions are lifted, now what? See sloths, what else!

Mariana Diaz / Toucan Rescue Ranch - March 7, 2021

This is officially the first week we are all allowed to drive again on both days of the weekend, how…