In the first 15 days of 2017, 133 inmates were killed during riots in Brazilian prisons. More than the 111 deaths during the famous Carandiru massacre in 1992. How to deal with the many challenges of the prison system that has the third largest prison population in the world? H360’s response comes in the form of a partnership that has been recently signed by the Executive and Judiciary branches of Sao Paulo State.
The project focuses on four prison units in the city of Tremembé in Paraíba Valley. Its foundation is the already existent collaboration between the Secretariat of Penitentiary Administration of Sao Paulo State – the Executive Branch – and the Department of Criminal Justice of the State – the Judiciary Branch. The project’s motor is the Community Executive Board of Taubaté (CCVEC in its Portuguese acronym), which consists of a group of citizens that works voluntarily representing civil society within prison units.
The collaboration between the Executive and Judiciary branches coupled with the board members’ activities have already created a differentiated environment when compared to the reality of other Brazilian prisons. The list of best practices in those units is extensive. The role of Humanitas360 will be to leverage the process, providing more structure to the board and disseminating what is done there. Moreover, H360 will also take successful experiences from other parts of Brazil and from around the world to be implemented in Tremembé.
The main novelty will be “imported” from a women’s prison in the city of Ananindeua, located in the outskirts of Belém, Pará. There, the first co-op exclusively made up by inmates in Brazil was created. Through the co-op, detainees are able not only to work and generate an income for their families, but also learn techniques of handcrafting and entrepreneurship that may guarantee their livelihood after they get released from prison, which may avoid recidivism.
In addition to creating a co-op in every prison in Tremembé, the project will employ production activities that already exist, such as vegetable gardening and handcrafts, in order to create large scale production structures, which will maximize the potential of income generation. Coupled with that process, a new brand will be developed as well as a marketing plan and a complete communications strategy.
H360’s biggest motivation with those initiatives is to open the eyes of society about the contradiction of the prison system. Common sense indicates that the more people are put in jail, the safer society gets. However, statistical data about public security and the unanimous opinion of all those who work and research the theme show the exact opposite: violence in the streets increases as the prison population grows. This happens because every new inmate is a potential soldier of criminal factions, having to obey them and owing them financial contributions, which creates a vicious cycle the is practically impossible to break.
Strengthening the Community Executive Board and taking more and more volunteers to work inside the prisons, expediting the sentencing process to combat the overcrowding of prisons, providing professional training to inmates and respectable work conditions for former convicts are, therefore, the best antidotes to the growing violence in our streets.
For all that, the project, which is being developed in partnership of H360 with the Secretariat of Penitentiary Administration of Sao Paulo State in Paraíba Valley (SAP COREVALI – acronym in Portuguese), the State Department of Criminal Justice of Sao Paulo State in the 9th Region of Justice Administration (DEECRIM 9a RAJ – acronym in Portuguese) and the Community Executive Board of the Criminal Sentencing Branch in Taubaté (CCVEC Taubaté – acronym in Portuguese), also seeks to create a digital platform that will publicize all of the board’s activities, thus making it easier to attract volunteers for the projects in the prisons. This platform and all the methodologies and lessons learned of this pilot project will be shared by H360 to other criminal sentencing branches and secretariats of penitentiary administration in Brazil and in other Latin American countries.