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The Chief Justice of the STF initiates new program to improve the prison system


Tuesday, April 5th 2015

The President of the National Council of Justice (CNJ) and Chief Justice of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF), Ricardo Lewandowski, initiated on Tuesday (4/5) the Citizenship in Prison Program, a project that aims the improvement of the prison system in Brazil; the announcement was made on the opening of the First Preparatory Reunion of the 9th National Encounter of the Judicial Branch and of the First Reunion of the Network of Prioritization of First Degree. The project will be developed on the State of Espírito Santo.

The Citizenship in Prison establishes a unique model of functioning of the Justice system, by bringing closer the judge, the society and the claimant. “The Espírito Santo is one of the states with larger prison problems and we are counting with the support of the Judicial and Executive Branches”, said the minister. According to him, the Citizenship in Prison Program is the second stage of the prison task force, which was a successful experience. “We need to take a step forward, change the philosophy to improve the involvement of Justice Courts and expand the dialogue with the judges. We do not want one-sided measures”, said the minister.

According to Minister Lewandowski, the Citizenship in Prison Program has three lines. The first is the change of the methodology of preparation and judgment of proceedings to change the prison regime, aiming the acceleration of both. The goal is to have the help of mechanisms such as the video conference to incentive the humanization of the Justice administration. “We will work alongside with the execution judge”, said the minister.

The second line of the program presented by the minister is the special attention of the Judicial Branch over the physical condition of prisons. “The judges cannot close their eyes to the situation of the prisoners”, stated Lewandowski. The last line of the Citizenship in Prison is the assistance of the prisoner so that after his freedom, he will be able to have access to social assistance programs, access to the right of personal documentation and especially have access to jobs, so he can have an effective social reinsertion. “It´s necessary to guarantee the reinsertion in the community as a citizen and to guarantee the right to a life with dignity”, he said.

The president of the Brazilian Lawyers Order (OAB), Marcus Vinicius Furtado Coêlho, highlighted that the program has full support of the 865 thousand lawyers of Brazil. “The segregation of freedom cannot be the only response of the criminal system, since that are other alternatives. The right of the prisoner is to have your presence seen by the judge. This is a civilizing conquer since the XVII century and the CNJ is right to promote this initiatives”, said Coêlho.

Measures package

According to minister Ricardo Lewandowski, the Citizenship in Prison is part of a package of measures to combat the problem of the huge Brazilian population on prisons – 600 thousand all over the country- from which 42% are provisional prisoners (are not found guilty and had never been in front a judge). Besides the Citizenship in Prison Program, the minister highlighted the importance of the implementation of custody hearings, measure already working in 14 Brazilian states. “This project guarantees that the prisoner will be presented to a judge in 24 hours, bringing back the original idea of habeas corpus, to give his version of the facts, which is fundamental in terms of human rights”, said the minister.

According to the minister, the State of São Paulo, which has custody hearings working since February, had a reduction of 45% of the number of provisional prisoners, which demonstrates a great civilizing improvement. “It’s necessary to end the prison culture and increase the application of alternative measures”, said the minister.

Another measure highlighted was the signing of a collaboration term between the CNJ and the Ministry of Justice to strengthen the criminal alternatives and the acquisition of electronic ankle bracelets. “He did a research alongside with judges in regard of the motives for the usage prison and alternative measures, and some said they didn’t know and others said they didn’t have physical conditions or did not possessed services to monitor or ankle bracelets”, explained the minister. “In a short term, the ankle bracelets and the alternative measures will be at everyone’s disposal”, he said.

On the launching of the Citizenship in Prison Program, the minister Lewandowski also informed about the program regarding the health of the prisoners. In final stage of development by the CNJ, the program will soon be launched by the institution. “Today the prisoners are abandoned. We are developing partnerships with national and international health organisms to make the initiative possible”, guaranteed the minister.

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