Costa Rica: A new model for prison standards in Latin America?

Prisons in Latin America are known for their overcrowding, poor conditions, and a near-complete lack of reform, but a recent report from the US State Department shows that Costa Rica stands out as an example of positive change. While prisons in the country are still overcrowded, they are significantly less so than other neighboring countries. An external oversight group protects Costa Rican inmates, and helps to keep gang activity down and human rights protected.

While there is much work to be done creating non-abusive prisons with a focus on rehabilitation in Latin America, as well as for reforming harsh drug laws and reducing overcrowding, Costa Rica has taken a few steps in the right direction, leading the region in its efforts to provide services and safety to its prisoners and citizens. Will reforms continue? Will other nearby countries follow in Costa Rica’s footsteps?

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