A new Costa Rican penal code provision enables a judge to recommend punishments other than prison time and reduces sentences to 3-8 years for women who are either living in precarious conditions, have dependents, or are elderly, Noor Mahtini reports for El Pais. The new code is a brand of restorative justice that keeps certain convicts out of jail and gives both victims and perpetrators space to make amends and restitution.
The restorative justice law was approved in 2018 and has consistently been supported by successive governments. This law establishes a structured process involving a judge, prosecutor, psychologists, social workers, the victim (civil society, in some cases), and the offender. To qualify for this process, three conditions must be met: it must be the first offense, carry a sentence of less than three years, and all parties must agree to this form of conflict resolution. Thus far, only 4 percent of participants have reoffended during the two-year monitoring period. Costa Rica also found that psychosocial approaches resolve cases much more quickly (one to three months), and 86 percent more cost-effective compared to standard cases.