Jailed lawyer says he is in the county’s best, drug-free facility

Arcelio Hernández

I had always heard that in Costa Rica anyone can end up in jail if a prosecutor wants you there. When in my case the Fiscalia de San Joaquin de Flores denied me access to the case file, I made the terrible mistake of filing a complaint with the constitutional court, which issued a reprimand to the prosecutor.

From that moment on, I got not only access to the file, but also the “special treatment,” which has included my being detained without a trial for more than the minimum penalty established in the penal code for “fraudulent administration,” that being six months.

But I am grateful to have been sent to Costa Rica’s “best jail” located in San Ramón. I say “best jail”
because contrary to most other prisons in this country no drugs are allowed in, and the penitentiary police is in charge, rather than some bully.

This is a prison where police officers, jail guards, judicial agents and other law enforcement officials get sent. The food is decent, and because drugs are not tolerated, there is generally a peaceful environment and inmates respect each other. The total population is about 75 and everybody has a bed. The scenario is very different from other prisons where there is overpopulation and because of drugs you basically have to sleep with one eye open as there are also knives and other weapons in the hands of prisoners, especially those who control drug distribution which they do with the help of corrupt guards who take a share of profit.

Here, as in all other prisons in Costa Rica, there is no segregation of inmates according to the nature of the crime being investigated. Therefore, I share a cell with other inmates whose alleged crimes include murder, kidnapping, rape, drug trafficking as well as non-violent crimes such as the one for which I am patiently awaiting trial, and basically amounts to a dispute over money. This means that if I wanted to, I could now start my career in the underworld as I now have contacts who have offered me their services should I want to get involved in their criminal activities. This is a serious problem, and the government should try to not to mix people under like this.

San Ramón has a lot of good people, and you can sense the difference of folks from this rural area as they are more representative of the old Costa Rican kindness and noble heart. Most guards are from nearby towns and they treat people with a gentle and polite spirit unlike other prisons.

When somebody starts creating problems they are immediately warned that if they continue causing trouble they will be transferred elsewhere with “La Reforma” being the most feared place. While I wait for our constitutional court to decide on my most recent writ for Habeas Corpus, I thank God that I was I lucky enough to have been sent to this particular jail.

I had never treasured freedom as much as I do now, and I am trying to take advantage of my detention by reading a lot, praying, and learning from other people.

Not having a cell phone or an Internet connection is difficult at first, but this has helped to lower my stress levels, and I am seriously considering saying goodbye to cell phones when I get out, which will hopefully be soon.

My clients can still communicate with me via email as my family brings me documents for review on weekends. Some clients also call me via telephone. Since I have not been tried, I am innocent and can still practice law. In fact, I have helped many people in the recent months here in jail mainly pro bono. My email address is emailthelawyer@yahoo.com

To all those who believe in me my most sincere gratitude for your continued support and prayers. This has been very difficult for me and for my family but I know that the sun will shine again.

Arcelio Hernández Mussio is a lawyer, who has worked for A.M. Costa Rica’s parent company and is facing a fraud charge involved in a dispute over the purchase of a hotel. He is a Desamparados native and worked in both San José and Jacó. A story about his case is HERE!

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