PHOTOS REPORT: A look inside Costa Rica's San Rafael Prison

By Zach Dyer

Alberto Font/The Tico Times

Green mountains rise up to meet the sky on a hot Monday morning in San Rafael, Alajuela. The scene is picturesque but take a step back and the view through the razor-wire fence changes from halcyon to hostile. It’s the same one that the 1,252 inmates in San Rafael prison see everyday.

Prisoners hoot, jeer and pose, vying for the attention of the television cameras that have interrupted the monotony of life in the prison on this press visit.

“There’s no food, no marijuana!” crowed one voice from the crowd.

“They treat us like pigs!” called out another.

Costa Rica’s prison system houses more than twice as many prisoners as its built for. A series of judicial reforms and enforcement strategies were successful in catching criminals and putting them behind bars but increased arrests and guilty verdicts outpaced the Costa Rican penitentiary system’s ability to keep up. With the 2016 budget debate looming, prison officials face the hurdle of securing funds to guarantee the basic needs of the country’s least sympathetic group.

Nearly 35,000 people are in the Costa Rican correctional system, including more than 14,000 who are incarcerated. San Rafael prison was built to house 704. It currently holds 1,252.

The Ombudsman’s Office has

Via:: Tico Times