Jails open controversy due to food contract for prisoners

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The ministry of Justice and Peace wants to acquire food for prisoners from a private company, even though the law forces them to replenish their supplies from the CNP, The Council of National Production.

The management from this institution caused great controversy after requesting, in July 2012, a contract of “deliver by needs” of food for the penitentiary system, which includes sugar, coffee, beans, rice, salt, oil and tuna.

With this process, that’s in its final stage, the Ministry doesn’t establish a specific buying amount, but the compromise of supplying goods according to the needs.

In the article 9 of the Organic law of CNP, forces the public entities to “provide themselves from all kinds of generic supplies, from the traffic of this institution with the established prices.”

However, the administrative vice-minister of Justice, Jorge Rodríguez, said that they’ve run across problems from the CNP, which lead them to look for a “Plan B” with the private sector.

“There were some cases, for example, of rotten meat, eggs in bad shape, delayed deliveries, problems with the goods distribution, from the kind of product and price changes,” He mentioned.

William Barrantes, president of CNP, assured that if “Justice” stops buying from them, there will be annual losses for 5.000 million colones, for small and medium producers of this country.

“The point here is that there’s a legal obligation with CNP, in the last 6 months there hasn’t been any breaches,” He said.

CNP went to the Contraloría General de la República, but this entity rejected it, it didn’t specify which products, from the Ministry, were within the request and in competition with CNP.

Each month, for example, 70.000 kilos of rice, 20.000 kilos of beans, and 2.000 kilos of salt are required to prepare 40.000 daily plates. Jorge Rodríguez catalogued the feeding of the prisoners as a “sensible” labor, In case of problems or delays, the security of the jails would be affected, for example, with a riot.

Aside from the CNP, they offered La Maquila Lama S.A., Corporación Vado Quesada S.A. and Mercadeo de Artículos de Consumo S.A.

The 3 initial firms were excluded for not presenting the reference letter or the participation guarantee of 66 million colones.

Mercadeo de Artículos de Consumo S.A. was the only company that presented all the required conditions, this belongs to the president of the Partido Liberación Nacional, Bernal Jiménez Monge, who denied any participation in the request.

“It has all been transparent, I am apart from it,” he said.

The Ley de Contratación Administrativa doesn’t prohibit him from having contracts with the State.

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