Brazil’s Correctional Houses of Horror - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#14764757
César Muñoz Acebes wrote:Brazil’s Correctional Houses of Horror

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Historians of medieval times would recognize much in Brazil’s modern-day prisons. Detainees are often held in dark, humid, and poorly ventilated cells. Disease is rampant; prisoners are almost 30 times more likely than members of the general population to have tuberculosis. In the last three weeks, more than 130 inmates died in seven states, most in mass killings. Some had simply been gutted, while others were decapitated or fully dismembered. Brazilian prison gangs use such brutality to terrorize their enemies.

In 2015, then-Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo called the prisons “medieval dungeons.” Years earlier, he had remarked that, “from the bottom of my heart, I would rather die than be incarcerated in one of our prisons for many years.” Like Cardozo, successive Brazilian governments on both the left and the right have decried Brazil’s prison problem. But each and every one has abdicated its responsibility to provide humane detention and to guarantee the security of inmates.

A BREEDING GROUND FOR MORE CRIME

As of 2016, the Curado prison complex in Recife, northeast Brazil, held about 7,000 inmates in facilities built for 1,800. The outside door leads to the “cage,” a kind of lobby through which a visitor can reach administrative areas. Guards control the cage, but once you pass through the gate into the prison’s interior, you’re on your own.

Within the outer walls, the prison is divided into pavilions—fenced-in areas with multiple cellblocks. The cellblocks are unlocked; according to a prison official, overcrowding is so severe that inmates would “suffocate” if locked inside the cells, so they are free to circulate within the pavilions and to sleep in corridors and makeshift cubicles.

Guards do not go inside pavilions. The critically short-staffed prison authorities put certain detainees in charge of the pavilions and give them the keys. Many of these “keyholders” use their power within their pavilions to sell drugs and extort payments from fellow prisoners and their families. They use other inmates to make threats against and assault prisoners who don’t pay their debts or who question the keyholders’ rule. Prison officials remain either willfully blind to the rackets or else become part of them, a prison director and former detainees said in interviews.

The keyholder system is specific only to certain prisons in Brazil, but what is common nationwide is authorities’ lack of control over what goes on inside the prisons. In the Pedrinhas prison complex in the state of Maranhão, for instance, I witnessed prison officials asking incoming detainees which gang each belonged to so that they could place the prisoners in facilities run by that gang. While there, I interviewed two young detainees who had just arrived after being arrested along with more than 30 other men at a party in a house where police found drugs and two guns. Both were married with children, had jobs, and had no prior record. They said they did not belong to any gang, but still they requested to be sent to a facility assigned to the gang that controlled their local neighborhood. Each feared death at the hands of rival gang members. This system is a recipe for gang recruitment, with consequences for the detainees—and the public—long after their release.

This system is a recipe for gang recruitment, with consequences for the detainees—and the public—long after their release.
The reaction to the latest round of mass prison killings is revealing. “Good families,” said Fernando Francischini, a federal lawmaker and former security secretary for Paraná State, “are giving a standing ovation” to the news of the killings. The governor of the state of Amazonas, José Melo, said that “there was no saint [among the dead]. They were rapists, killers.” The national youth secretary, Bruno Júlio, even called for more violence. “There have to be more killings,” he said. “There should be a mass killing per week.” After an avalanche of criticism, the government forced Júlio to resign.

Statements like these reflect the belief among many Brazilians that killing criminals—or in this case, letting inmates kill each other—is a good public security policy. In a recent poll, more than half of those interviewed said they agreed with the Brazilian saying that “a good criminal is a dead criminal.” The implication is that an inhumane and unsafe prison system where recurrent violence leaves prisoners dead is working just fine.

That is profoundly short-sighted—not just because it ignores the rule of law and respect for human dignity but also because it is absolutely counterproductive for public security. The chaos inside the prisons has spread outside the prison walls. The two main gangs in Maranhão, for instance, were formed by detainees in the last decade to protect themselves from attacks in prison since the state was unable or unwilling to do so. Released onto the street, those gangs have now divided up São Luis, the state capital, between them. Their tags on stop signs and buildings mark the neighborhoods they control.

MASS SLAUGHTER BEHIND BARS

A worker prepares graves for inmates who died during a prison riot, at the cemetery of Taruma in Manaus, Brazil, January 2017.
The recent violence in Brazil’s prisons seemed to take Brazil’s officials by surprise. Just a few weeks prior, in December, the federal government had diverted funds intended for prison improvements to other uses.

Further, it took three days for President Michel Temer to talk publicly about the first massacre, on January 1, in which 56 inmates died in the Anísio Jobim prison complex in the state of Amazonas. He called it a “devastating accident.” But an accident is, by definition, random and unexpected. The killings were anything but—not just because the dire state of the country’s prisons is well known but also because there were specific warnings about the explosive situation in Amazonas.

In January of 2016, the National Mechanism for the Prevention and Combatting of Torture—a body within the Justice Ministry—said after a visit to Anísio Jobim and three other prisons in Amazonas that prison authorities were “neglectful” in their duties in the face of the activities by prison gangs. The representatives warned about the possibility of riots and noted that prisoners “basically self-govern within prison, and that has an impact on legal security and, more important, the right to life.”

Similarly, there was plenty of warning before the 31 killings in the Penitenciária Agrícola de Monte Cristo in Roraima on January 6. In September, the National Council of Justice said conditions were “terrible” at that prison, which held more than twice as many inmates as its official capacity. A month later, ten inmates were killed there.

Overall, as of December 2014, Brazil had about 622,000 men and women behind bars. Prison capacity was about 372,000. In total, at least 372 inmates were killed last year nationwide, and the number does not even include those who were attacked in prison but died later in the hospital.

The raw numbers do not convey the inhumane conditions caused by the severe overcrowding. In Curado, I entered a cell containing 60 men that had only six cement bunks. Because there was not enough floor space for the men to lie down, they had put up a web of hammocks. The cell smelled overwhelmingly of feces, sweat, and mold.

REMEDIAL STEPS

Many of the people incarcerated in Brazil should not be in prison in the first place. About 42 percent of those detained are awaiting trial, compared with the world average of 22 percent and an average in developed countries of eight percent, according to the Ministry of Justice. According to a 2014 study, 37 percent of those in pretrial detention in Brazil end up not being sentenced to prison at trial. And they are routinely housed among convicted criminals, a practice that violates both international standards and Brazilian law and facilitates gang recruitment. In 2014, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention warned of “a worrying trend towards using the deprivation of liberty as a measure of first rather than last resort, as would be required by international human rights standards.”

One measure that can prevent the excessive use of pretrial detention is to bring those who get arrested before a judge without delay so that the judge can make an informed decision about whether the suspect should await trial in jail. Such “custody hearings,” which also allow judges to examine suspects for signs of police abuse and are required by international law, only began in Brazil in 2014. Today, they are still only held in state capitals and a few other jurisdictions.

Brazil must also end excessive delays in judicial proceedings once they are underway. In October 2016, I interviewed two women in a prison in the state of Pernambuco who had been waiting more than six years for trial. I also documented cases of people who remained in prison after the end of their sentences—including a man who spent 10 additional years behind bars because of the incompetence of the judicial system. He had no lawyer or family. To prevent cases like his from falling through the cracks, a 2012 law required the creation of an integrated data system that should contain information about each case from the police, prison authorities, and judges, but the system still has yet to be created. Another important measure to end delays is a requirement in a 2009 resolution of the National Council of Justice for judges to review the cases of pre-trial detainees every three months. Yet judges are not complying with that requirement. The National Council of Justice needs to press for compliance. Having more public defenders to advocate for detainees would also help end the delays. Another key measure is to make wider use of alternatives to prison, such as community service, fines, house arrest, or wearing a security bracelet.


Brazil’s “war on drugs” policy is also in need of reform. More than a quarter of convicted detainees are in prison on drug charges. Among women, the fraction is closer to two-thirds. And several studies have found that drug policies are used to punish people for holding small quantities of drugs. One of those is a young man I will call “Roberto.” He was sentenced to more than four years in prison for possessing with intent to sell 15 grams of marijuana, an amount worth 50 reais (about $15), and was held in Curado, side by side with convicted murderers, when I visited in 2015. His mother told me that other prisoners were pressuring Roberto to join their gang. Brazil should decriminalize the possession of drugs for personal use and look at ways to effectively regulate the distribution of drugs.

Brazil should also invest in prevention by overhauling its overcrowded and dysfunctional juvenile detention system. The system’s goal, according to Brazilian law, is to give children in conflict with the law a chance at rehabilitation through education and other programs. In practice, many of its facilities differ little from adult prisons. Last October, I visited units in the state of Ceará where children were locked up in damp, dark cells 24 hours a day, without any educational or recreational activities whatsoever. Brazil should expand alternatives to detention for children in conflict with the law. It also needs to invest in adequate educational, health, and psychological services for children who commit serious infractions that warrant confinement so that instead of being places of isolation and punishment, detention centers are environments that provide those children with a chance to turn their lives around.

Reform is likewise needed within the prison walls themselves. Brazil needs to hire more guards and other prison personnel and provide them with adequate training; it needs to improve the controls at the prison gates—including searching all prison personnel for contraband—and to investigate cases of violence within prisons and prosecute those responsible. Officials should also be providing inmates with opportunities for both work and education. If Brazil doesn’t act now, more mass killings are sure to follow.

Foreign Affairs
#14764764
Many of the people incarcerated in Brazil should not be in prison in the first place. About 42 percent of those detained are awaiting trial,


This statement shows they are combining jails with prisons to come up with statistics they apply strictly to prisons. Bias reporting, so I resorted to skimming rather than serious reading.
Another liberal ideologist holding up the standards of say the US as how prisons should be ran. :lol: Our coddling of prisoners has accomplished nothing except make prisoners lives easier and educate them on how to be smarter criminals. Violent criminals should be eliminated as soon as possible. Maybe then we could afford to spend more time on finding rehabilitation methods that actually work.
#14764770
Your statement shows that anything that is not absolutely in agreement with your conservative world-view is “biased". In fact that is all you have to say about anything.

42% of those in prison are awating trial and 37% of those in pre-trial prison do not end up in prison after trial but do end up in prison before the trial. Why is calling that out “biased"?
#14764771
42% of those n prison are awating trial and 37% of those in pre-trial prison do not end up in prison after trial but do end up in prison before the trial. Why is calling that out “biased"?


Since when or where are people placed in prison to await trial? Certainly not in the US.
#14764772
You need to acquaint yourself more about the correctional system. A lot of people go to prison while awaiting trial, that is why you have the thing called “bail”. While in advanced countries only 8% of those people end up outside jail after their trial and it so can be said that they had been imprisoned incorrectly, in Brazil that is 37% which is the point of the author and to make matters worse they have been imprisoned incorrectly in prisons that have nothing to do with western prison but are actually horrifying. More than a third of people that have been imprisoned in these horror jails should not even be there. Still don’t see why or how that statistic which is cited is biased?
#14764774
You need to acquaint yourself more about the correctional system. A lot of people go to prison while awaiting trial, that is why you have the thing called “bail”. While in advanced countries only 8% of those people end up outside jail and it can be said that they ahd been imprisoned incorrectly, in Brazil that is 37% which is the point of the author. Still don’t see why or how that is biased?


As I said in my original post, they are using jail statistics to compare Western countries with Brazil and then applying it to a prison. This makes the statistics faulty and therefore biased. Jail is not the same as prison. If they wanted to make an unbiased argument then their statistics should relate only to the prisons. Were 42% of the prisoners in this last prison to riot awaiting trial, or do the statistics include people in jail that had nothing to do with this prison? The only people in US prisons awaiting trial have already been convicted of a crime. Those not convicted are in jail, not prison.
#14764789
The statistics are quite clearly talking about the percent of those pre-trial prisoners(42%) from the total prison population out of which 37% end up outside of prison after-trial. The rest of the world is not required to define itself according to US jargon lest it be called biased especially when in Brazil there is no such distinction between jails run by counties or prisons run by states, pre-trial inmates end up with post-trial inmates, nor is there such a difference in other parts of the world which makes the system even worse than what you thought.
#14764794
And they are routinely housed among convicted criminals, a practice that violates both international standards and Brazilian law and facilitates gang recruitment.


@noemon
It appears the author disagrees with you. (admittedly, I know nothing about the Brazilian legal system)
You will notice he leaves out any figures and substitutes 'routinely' when discussing the numbers actually placed in prison to await trial. He also states this is a violation of Brazilian law.
You also accuse me of finding 'bias' everywhere, which is not surprising. I am amazed at the inability of intelligent people to recognize it. They acknowledge it's existence, but can not recognize it if it supports their position. I have therefore made it one of my 'crusades' to point it out as often as practical.
#14764804
The author affirms the fact, he does not disagree. And I still can't see any bias on the figures. I can see though that you only come up with bias only if it suits your ideology however remotely.

Also prisons are sectioned, pre-trial people are still in prison but a different section not in a jail however in Brazil due to overcapacity the sections no longer work either and they now share cells with convicted criminals routinely.

The prisons in Brazil are 163% overcrowded and pre-trial people are imprisoned with convicted criminals.
#14764809
I can see though that you only come up with bias only if it suits your ideology however remotely.


:?: I am pointing in out in a thread about Brazilian prison conditions which I have no interest in? I do point it out on conservative views, but normally someone has already done so before me. As I said, we mainly only have trouble seeing it when it supports our own views. I do not claim to be immune.
#14841821
One Degree wrote:As I said in my original post, they are using jail statistics to compare Western countries with Brazil and then applying it to a prison. This makes the statistics faulty and therefore biased. Jail is not the same as prison. If they wanted to make an unbiased argument then their statistics should relate only to the prisons. Were 42% of the prisoners in this last prison to riot awaiting trial, or do the statistics include people in jail that had nothing to do with this prison? The only people in US prisons awaiting trial have already been convicted of a crime. Those not convicted are in jail, not prison.


1. Brazil is Western as it gets. If Brazil isn't Western USA isn't as well. Western Civilization was created based on Roman Catholic-Greek-Judaic culture. The Western Civilization is Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal. Portugal was the first Nation State in Europe, was the country that kicked out the Islamic Empire and the Moors. Portugal is a nation-State formed by Templates and those same Templates formed the Brazilian army. Saying the country that is the most Roman Catholic country in the world, with a larger than life population o new christians, very much adapted to Greek Philosophy isn't Western is a complete ignorance of what Western Civilization is. A good advice is to look to Europes map see where Western points to.

2. Just like USA, Brazil has prisons and jails.

3. That article has absurd numbers, probably done by one of the many ONG's George Soros created in Brazil in the last decade. He's been busy doing that.
Last edited by Politiks on 08 Sep 2017 14:57, edited 1 time in total.
#14841824
Politiks wrote:1. Brazil is Western as it gets. If Brazil isn't Western USA isn't as well. Western Civilization was created based on Roman Catholic-Greek-Judaic culture. The Western Civilization is Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal. Portugal was the first Nation State in Europe, was the country that kicked out the Islamic Empire and the Moors. Portugal is a nation-State formed by Templates and those same Templates formed the Brazilian army. Saying the country that is the most Roman Catholic country in the world, with a larger than life population o new christians, very much adapted to Greek Philosophy isn't Western is a complete ignorance of what Western Civilization is. A good advice is to look to Europes map see where Western points to.

2. Just like USA, Brazil has prisons and jails

3. That article has absurd numbers, probably done by one of the many ONG's George Soros created in Brazil in the last decade. He's been busy doing that.


:?: Where did I say any of this? You seem to have misunderstood my post.
Edit: Ah, never mind @Politiks . I see my poor choice of words and I apologize.
Last edited by One Degree on 08 Sep 2017 15:55, edited 2 times in total.
#14841825
noemon wrote:The statistics are quite clearly talking about the percent of those pre-trial prisoners(42%) from the total prison population out of which 37% end up outside of prison after-trial. The rest of the world is not required to define itself according to US jargon lest it be called biased especially when in Brazil there is no such distinction between jails run by counties or prisons run by states, pre-trial inmates end up with post-trial inmates, nor is there such a difference in other parts of the world which makes the system even worse than what you thought.


Those numbers are incorrect. The fact is Brazil doesn't jail anyone hence why we have crimes sky rocking. Since these ONGS of Human Rights that care nothing about actual decent humans arrived by the thousands in Brazil when Lula got elected, we don't jail people anymore.

To be jailed in Brazil you need to have a record, which i bet most of them have a long record. With the exceptions of hideous crimes (gang rape, pedophilia, narcotraffic) you have the right for bail and if your record is clean can wait for trial at home.

What happens in many cases is injustice because the justice system in Brazil is pathetically slow. We do have tons of judges which makes me wonder why is so slow.

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