Justice minister asked to testify

Lawmakers want to hear from the minister of  Justicia y Paz, who is the driving force in releasing 6,000 prison inmates before their sentences are completed.

The Comisión Permanente Especial de Seguridad y Narcotráfico Thursday issued an invitation to the minister, Cecilia Sánchez Romero, to visit the legislature. The ministry runs the prisons through a subsidiary agency.

The plan is controversial in that some of those released have become suspects in other crimes. However, the ministry says that a bit more than 1 percent of those released early return to crime. The goal is to reduce prison overcrowding.

Police agencies are quick to point out that arrested individuals were on leave from what are called semi-institutional settings, basically halfway houses. But Thursday police made an error, and the ministry reported later in the day that two persons who had been arrested were not part of the program and had served all their time for prior crimes.

Lawmakers also want to talk to the minister about plans to use electronic bracelets to keep track of prisoners who are confined to their homes.

The meeting is likely to take place next week.

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