Inside cellblock A-2, simple wooden frame bunks line as much floor space as possible. Inmates, many shirtless in the heat, lounge on their bunks if they’re lucky enough to have a bunk. The cellblock is crowded – designed to hold 40 with 108 living inside – but people squeeze by each other like strangers on a crowded sidewalk. Anything that doesn’t fit on the floor hangs from the ceiling and the walls. “Just wait till nighttime,” says a toothless inmate doing a 30-year sentence who called himself Francisco, “that’s when it gets bad."
In 2005, the country’s prisons were 4 percent overcrowded. Today there are an additional 4,793 people behind bars, bringing the overcrowding rate to 54 percent. There are a total of 13,923 people in prison in Costa Rica.
In 2014, the Ombudsman’s Office received a total of 30,264 complaints, with more than half — 52 percent — filed by women. The figure also represents the largest number of annual complaints received in the last two decades.