SAN JOSÉ: An effort in Costa Rica to end prison overcrowding by transferring 600 convicts to semi-open facilities has sparked heated debate in the country, with media and some judges fearing an ensuing crime wave. The government insists the move is needed to end dire conditions in prisons causing serious human rights violations. Resistance has mounted to the move. A citizen has lodged an appeal against the transfers and several Costa Rican newspapers assert that dangerous criminals are being let loose. Justice Minister Cecilia Sanchez denied that and said the transfers she has accelerated since being appointed in July aim to end a “serious overcrowding problem.” “The prisons have a capacity for 9,000 detainees but currently hold more than 14,000,” she told AFP.