By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The first of the new cells at the Reinaldo Villalobos and Pabru Presberi prisons opened this past Wednesday for over 175 inmates across the country.
Cecilia Sánchez, the head of the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz, toured the facilities at San Rafael de Alajuela, where Reinaldo Villalobos is located and the deputy minister saw the other in Pérez Zeledón.
“We begin a new history of the penitentiary system,” Ms. Sánchez said. “The implementation of a model of care in dignified conditions, close to life in freedom, without overcrowding.”
These units are a different style than the traditional penal facilities, the justice ministry said. The aim is to provide a space that mimics, as closely as possible, life beyond bars and strengthen options to study, train or work and be rehabilitated back into society.
The facilities are not finished, however. The unit in San Rafael is expected to be complete with 704 more cells and the unit in Pérez Zeledón with 256 by November, the ministry said.
Inmates of these facilities were selected by criteria determined by the Instituto Nacional de Criminología. They are required to live at least three years in the unit before completing their sentence and sign a promise to work, study and receive therapy, the justice ministry concluded.