Electronic monitoring moves closer to approval

When law officers put these bracelets on, criminal suspects might be pleased if a bill on the verge of passage finally gets full approval.

Bracelets usually are considered handcuffs, and no one likes the discomfort and embarrassment of being led off that way.

The bracelet in this case is an electronic device that will monitor the location of a suspect before trial. The alternative would be traditional prisión preventiva in one of the country’s mostly unhygienic jails.

Lawmakers have set down stipulations on who can be granted limited freedom with the electronic device.

The suspected crime cannot carry a penalty of more than six years in prison and cannot involve a firearm, be designated as an organized crime offense or a sex allegation involving minors. The circumstances must be reasonable in the opinion of a judge so that victims are not endangered.

There is a special category for pregnant women or a female head of household with youngsters under 12 or a disabled person at home.

The judge would have the option of ordering home incarceration or allowing the suspect some movement, perhaps to go to a workplace. Lawmakers said that there is that flexibility in the proposed law.

The Ministerio de Justicia y Paz would be authorized to enter into a loan agreement with the Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo for $132 million.

Costa Rica’s prisons are overcrowded, and expats who have been remanded for preventative detention have little good to say about the facilities.

So part of the plan is to free up prison space, particularly since a suspect is supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

In special cases, lawmakers suggest that the electronic bracelet could be used after conviction, too.

An example would be if the convicted individual is very ill.

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