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Costa Rica evaluates inmate health in context of COVID-19 after court order

April 23, 2020

The Costa Rican judicial system ordered the release of inmates whose health is a risk factor for the coronavirus, and authorities began Wednesday to evaluate who could benefit from the measure.

The Ministry of Justice indicated that inmates with a health risk and who are not in danger of recidivism should be allowed to serve their sentence at home for three months.

The Minister of Justice, Fiorella Salazar, explained that the evaluation includes the prisoner’s health situation, as well as technical reports of his or her behavior during the incarceration to minimize the risk of recidivism.

“We want society to feel reassured that this person (who benefited from the measure) does not represent a danger to society,” Salazar said in a press conference on Facebook Live.

Inmates with kidney failure, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, hypertension, diabetes, morbid obesity, and those over 65 years old or pregnant will be evaluated, the minister explained.

Salazar added that after three months, the prisoner would undergo a new evaluation of their behavior during the period of release in context of the country’s health situation to determine if they should return to prison.

Security Minister Michael Soto expressed his dismay at the possible releases.

“As responsible for the security of this country, I undoubtedly have a level of concern with this issue,” Soto said with the Minister of Justice.

Soto said he asked for a “very detailed” assessment of potential beneficiaries because “we are concerned that customary criminals will take advantage of this circumstance to go out and re-offend.”

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