It’s not a hardware store. It’s supposed to be prison

Prison Contraband. Photo: Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública

Any doubts about the insecurity in the nation’s prisons were eliminated Wednesday when police and guards combed the five sections of the Centro de Atención Institucional in Puntarenas.

They found 80 knives, six cell telephones and 40 grams of marijuana, according to a report after the sweep. The prohibited items were hidden in mattresses, walls and within other items in the cells, said the Fuerza Pública, which participated in the sweep along with the Policía Penitenciaria.

In addition to the attempted jail break at the La Reforma maximum security unit in San Rafael de Alajuela, the sweep was triggered by the murder of an inmate in Puntarenas last week.

Prisons are unusually insecure in Costa Rica because conjugal visits are permitted as well as visits by other family members, clergy and lawyers. Some prisoners also are allowed to order out for food.

Inmates frequently have been accused of using contraband cell telephones to run scams on victims outside the prisons.

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