Juvenile justice law at 15 may come in for changes

Costa Rica’s juvenile justice law is 15 years old, and judicial officials say there need to be changes.

Doris Arias Madrigal, a magistrate in the Sala III high criminal court, suggested in a seminar Friday that a registry should be created for juveniles in the justice system. She also said that preventative measures before trial should be revised.

Since January the Fiscalía Adjunta Penal Juvenil said it has received allegations against 60 juveniles. Of these, 26 are free while the investigation continues and 33 have some sort of restrictions short of jail. One youth, convicted of abduction was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Officials also said that groups that use youngsters to commit crimes should be targeted by investigators.

There were no reports of discussion on the juvenile age limit. Youngsters up to age 18 are now covered by the juvenile law, but there is a measure in the legislature to reduce that age to 15. This proposal is strongly opposed by professionals in the juvenile justice system, including psychologists and social workers.

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