Brazilian legislators are coming up with innovative laws to deal with the overcrowding and high recidivism in Brazil prisons. As world population continues to surge past 7 billion people, prison overcrowding and repeat incarceration have become major policy problems all over the world. However, Brazilian government has been devising rather unconventional policies that can help them solve their problems related to prison overcrowding.
Their first step towards reducing the population of their prisons came in the form of a rule that said: one day less in prison for every 12 hours spent in the classroom. The program named as ‘Reading through Redemption’ was announced by the Brazilian government for all four federal prisons-which houses some of the most notorious Brazilian criminals. Prisoners were provided the incentive of shaving 48 days off their sentence each year by reading 12 books. In another recent move by the government prisoners in Brazil's Santa Rita do Sapucai prison can now put the pedal to the medal in order to shorten their time behind bars.
According to reports the policy has been instated by a city judge that rewards prisoners for generating energy by riding stationery bikes. By riding 16 hours a day a prisoner can actually knock a day off in his sentence. The energy produced by riding the bikes charge batteries that are later taken to the city centre where it is utilized to power light bulbs. The program has been so successful that the prison plans to add eight more bikes so that the prisoners can provide enough light to illuminate an entire street. It is important to mention here that the inmates eligible for such incentives will be approved by a special panel who will in turn be allowed to take advantage of the newly introduced policies.
Overcrowding is a prominent problem in Brazilian prisons. Statistics from a report published in 2010 show that there are 440,864 prisoners in Brazil’s prison system, and a total of 299,597 spots, meaning that prisons are 140,000 over capacity. This makes Brazil the state with the fourth largest prison population in the world. With the help of these new laws it is being anticipated that the problem of overcrowding and the reduction of prison sentence will definitely accelerate.
At present almost a quarter of prisoners or 97,060 are involved in programs where labor is performed in exchange of time, but only 10% are enrolled in educational programs. It is expected that once the new law is signed by President Rousseff it will encourage Brazil’s 411,157 incarcerated men and 29,707 women become a part of these educational initiatives.
Once known for its high rate of violent crimes, Brazil has shown a downward spiral in recent times. The trend is expected to continue with these new and innovative measures.