The government of São Paulo in the southeast of Brazil intends to send 10,000 inmates home starting tomorrow so that they can spend Father’s Day, next Sunday, July 13, with their families.
The controversial temporary leave can benefit as many as 12,000 prisoners. They represent around 10% of all the prisoner in the state of São Paulo. The official number should be released only on Friday.
To get the benefit the inmate has to be in a semi-open prison. The prisoner also has to have good conduct and must have completed one sixth of his sentence if it is his first conviction or a quarter if he is a recidivist.
The Public Defense Ministry, which is studying the benefit, may deny it if it believes the leave is not appropriate, but it’s doubtful it will vote against it. Recent attacks by organized crime in São Paulo were a warning that the inmates will not take a no for an answer.
The Public Defense Ministry has asked judges to not authorize at least some of the releases, but it doesn’t seem that the judges will listen to the appeal since the law is very clear in guaranteeing this benefit.
Prosecutor Antônio Baldin, from the Executions Court of São José do Rio Preto, in the interior of São Paulo, protested against the measure. "To release criminals temporarily shows how incompetent is our Judiciary when dealing with an emergency situation," he said, adding:
"The attacks on Monday are a response from the criminals to our request to the judges. The attack against the Public Ministry’s headquarters showed that. We prosecutors are in the frontline, being threatened. This would never happen in a serious country." .
Baldin had requested that 760 prisoners from the Agricultural Penal Institute (IPA) were denied leave, but his request was not granted and the inmates will go home.
The Public Defense Ministry decision to ask judges to deny the temporary release was based in information that inmates that were liberated for Mother’s Day in May carried orders from gang leaders and participated in the attacks against buses and public buildings that month, in the first wave of violence.
Another prosecutor, José Herbert Mendes, says that "to put between 10,000 and 12,000 inmates in the streets right now is a temerity." He defends the idea that the benefit be suspended, but recognizes that the judges have their hands tied while the law is not changed.