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Costa Rica’s top prison official steps down

July 7, 2015

Peace and Justice Minister Cristina Ramírez has stepped down in President Luis Guillermo Solís’ latest cabinet shuffle.

Ramírez will accept a position with the National Insurance Institute. Her resignation was announced during the president’s weekly press conference at Casa Presidencial on Tuesday.

Ramírez’s replacement at the Justice Ministry, which oversees Costa Rica’s prison system, is lawyer María Cecilia Sánchez Romero. Sánchez was a criminal prosecutor and judge during her 28-year career with the judicial branch, according to her biography provided by Casa Presidencial.

One of Sánchez’s biggest challenges will be tackling Costa Rica’s overcrowded prison system. According to the Ombudsman’s Office, Costa Rica’s prisons are more than 50 percent overcrowded and the country has one of the highest incarceration rates in Latin America.

Public office runs in the Sánchez family. Her son, Celso Gamboa Sánchez, is a prosecutor and served as Public Security Minister for President Solís until February. Gamboa’s sister works as a public defender, he mentioned in a tweet following his mother’s nomination Tuesday.

Ramírez is the seventh minister to leave the Solís cabinet.

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