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Those Who Ordered the Murders in Brazil Must Be Punished, Says Political Scientist

An aggressive campaign against crime, a crackdown on criminals and a program to put them behind bars, along with the rapid construction of new, more secure prisons.

All of these things contributed to the recent uprising of criminal groups in the state of São Paulo, in the Brazilian Southeast, says Paulo Mesquita, a political scientist at the University of São Paulo’s Center for the Study of Violence (Núcleo de Estudos da Violência da Universidade de São Paulo) (USP).

"With all these things going on it is difficult to maintain control of penitentiaries. You do not have time to train new directors and prison agents. You also do not have time to deal with the historical problems of prison violence, corruption and overcrowding," says Mesquita.

What happens under these circumstances is that groups inside the penitentiaries get "slices of power." When you disturb these people, which is what happened when São Paulo authorities decided to transfer inmate leaders to maximum security prisons last week, you get a reaction. The reaction this time was much more violent than ever before, explains Mesquita.

The right way to deal with this in the short-term, Mesquita goes on, is to punish those responsible for the violence. "The punishment of those who ordered the assassinations of policemen and the prison rebellions is absolutely necessary."

In the long-term the states and the federal government have to work together to reform and improve the penitentiary system, says Mesquita.

"It is very important not to exploit this politically. Avoid a conflict between the state and the federal governments…. And it is essential for civil society to be involved in finding solutions. That is the only way to make progress in dealing with the underlying problems that cause these rebellions."

Agência Brasil


  • Show Comments (3)

  • Guest

    Punishment ? Ohhh sure….
    …but they are already in jails. How do you want to punish them…more ?

    They still have their mobile phones and they are by law….allowed to quit the jails….from time to time…..due to their legally entitled vacations !

  • Guest

    somewhat agree
    I think that instead of building more prisons, we should first improve the ones currently built. Decrease and eventually eliminate the corruption in jails by increasing employee wages. It’s a joke that the prisoners can take over the prison whenever they feel like it.

    Increasing wages for police officers and other service workers would also be a good idea. There has to be harsher punishments for smaller crimes as well. If you think about it, paying a police officer to get out of a ticket isn’t a bad idea. Instead of the money going to the politicians, it goes to the police officer who can then feed his family. Of course, if they had a decent wage in the first place they wouldn’t have to do such thing.

    The whole judicial system needs to be redone. We need death row and capitol punishment. Death for corruption would be awesome but would never pass, as the politicians are the ones who have to pass it and they aren’t about to comitt suicide.

    I’d like to see some kind of movement started to try to bring all these things to reality. Not a movement by a politician or political party, but a movement by the people.

  • Ana Kissed

    Just locking up people will not work
    If anyone really believes that just building more prisons and locking more people up will solve this problem then I believe they are wrong.

    The root of these problems is poverty, the lack of access to opportunity and a feeling of alienation, why would people feel bound by rules set by a Nation State that ignores them, oppresses them and when they have contact with that State it is violent against them?

    Instead of spending millions on more places to lock people away maybe they should try using that money and drive to improve education, health and life in general for the communities that these people come from, address the problems that lead to people turning to drugs , selling sex and crime.

    From where I stand it seems to me that building more prisons will not address the underling problems and so will just fill up and even more will be needed as the underling problems that draw children to drugs, crime and selling sex will still be there will lines of people waiting to join.

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