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August 21, 2007

Several Steps in the Right Direction

By Randy Paul of Beautiful Horizons

Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva has unveiled his program to fight crime in Brazil. There are plenty of good ideas here:

Brazil's prisons suffer from chronic overcrowding and as part of the plan160 new ones will be built with special facilities to provide jobs and education.

Brazilian prisons are notorious for corruption and especially for overcrowding and it has been festering for years, culminating in the massacre at Carandiru prison, resulting in the deaths of 111 prisoners. Prison guards are poorly paid, making them easy targets for drug dealers to compromise them. Torture and abuse of prisoners is endemic to the system. While this may please some with the impression that the authorities are being tough on crime, it is essential to remember that no one in Brazil serves more than thirty years in jail no matter the crime. Those who are treated badly will be back on the streets again with years of resentment and rage at Brazilian society - and precious little in the way of hope.

The proposals also aim to confront some of the problems faced by poorly paid police officers who have in the past often been accused of corruption. Grants are to be made available for training and housing aimed at officers working in the most violent areas.

This is an excellent idea and has taken far too long to implement. Police in Brazil are very poorly paid and are expected to risk their lives for wages that often is barely above subsistence. Moreover, the poor pay and poor training often fails to attract those with the skills necessary to be effective and humane police oficers.

More than 400,000 young people, including former convicts, will  receive job training and financial aid.

It is virtually an article of faith that those on the lower rungs of Brazilian society have litle reason to be optimistic about their future. While much more needs to be done in this area, this seems like a good start.

I agree with the comment from Viva Rio's director that the question is whether this can be implemented and Lula's comment that this is "not enough to compensate for centuries of inequality that gave rise to violence," but it is a start. While I would like to see other issues being addressed more directly, including torture committed by police and impunity for these acts, I'm glad to see that crime is being addressed in Brazil on a national level with more than just an iron fist and that the root causes are being addressed.

August 21, 2007 in Inequality | Permalink

Comments

Well, yeah, but where's my music?

Posted by: terry in az | Aug 21, 2007 12:57:09 PM

I join you in wondering how well this will be implemented, as it seems very ambitious. But it's a start, as you say, and without that you don't get anywhere.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 21, 2007 1:27:47 PM

One of the "City Of God" bonus features had Rio's (?) chief of police talk about policing the favelas. He basically said that the police serve the Brazilians with money and maintain a social order that benefits them, and that's that. I was stunned that the chief of police was saying that, not a community activist (though I'm sure they're saying that too).

Posted by: American Citizen | Aug 21, 2007 4:52:51 PM

Terry,

Later today. Eu prometo.

Posted by: Randy Paul | Aug 21, 2007 8:51:42 PM

The biggest solution would be to end the war on drugs. Every major criminal organization on the continent gets its money from drug trade.

Posted by: André Kenji | Aug 23, 2007 12:22:20 AM

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Posted by: judy | Oct 11, 2007 7:34:36 AM

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