“If you don't have anything to do, don't come here to do it."
It seems the Ghost Hunters International team has become fascinated in investigating the penal system around the world. Their next stop is San Lucas Island in Costa Rica. This island's history horror began in the 16th Century. The Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Fernandez Oviedo used San Lucas as a concentration camp for local Chara people. These people were slaughtered on the site of their sacred burial grounds.
A few hundred years later, San Lucas was turned in to a penal island. The prison was constructed in 1873 by dictator Tomás Miguel Guardia Gutiérre. It was dubbed the Caribbean Alcatraz. However, San Lucas also didn't achieve the inescapable label so many prisons sought. There were many daring escapes to shark infested waters and tragic failures. But then again who wouldn't want to attempt freedom from one of the most heinous prisons known to man.
Only the worst criminals in Costa Rica were sent to San Lucas. The prison was considered the largest in the country's history. The former buildings include a historic dock that is still in use after the first dock was destroyed, a Catholic church, a medical building, temporary holding cells, a three story main office, a large concrete disc used to hold a water tank, and water pumps. There are also several water pumps and a cemetery under excavation on the island. There are prison cells of varying security levels, containing the typical graffiti such as religious phrases, pornographic images, signatures, and drawings. The above statement is written in one of these cells.
The death penalty was abolished by Gutiérre a year after the prison opened its doors. However, with such prison conditions, a stint in San Lucas was a death sentence in itself. Sixty to a hundred inmates occupied one cell at time. Cells contained low ceilings, few windows, and iron beds with thin mattresses. Those without a bed slept on the floor. Each prisoner was issued a ball and chain. The weight of the ball was determined by how dangerous the inmate was deemed to be.
Inmates labored in the tropical sun, breaking rocks and harvesting salt from the sea. "The Disk" sits in the center of the prison courtyard. In the middle is a hole half filled with water. This was considered solitary confinement. Some inmates spent months in there with only 15 minutes above ground each day. A former inmate, José León Sánchez, wrote a fictional account of his incarceration at San Lucas titled La Isla de Hombres Solos or The Lonely Men's Island. The prison remaind operational until 1991. The island has since been turned in to a wildlife preserve and San Lucas is now opened as a tourist attraction.
Many believe the former inhabitants of this maximum security facility are still roaming the property.