By Philip Sever, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – On April 16th a new government department for prisons was opened (NUSPEN, Núcleo de Atendimento do Sistema Penitenciário) and a new department for female victims of violence was opened (NUDEM, Núcleo de Defesa da Mulher Vítima de Violência).
The ceremony began at 11AM at the new headquarters of NUSPEN, with the presence of the Minister for Justice, Tarso Genro. At 12:30PM the inauguration of NUDEM took place. Present at the inauguration of NUDEM was the Minister for Policies for Women, Nilce Freire.
The role of NUSPEN is to follow each prisoner from when they are sentenced through to when they are released. Also to help them during their time in prison by offering courses and other forms of training so that when the individual has completed their sentence they leave prison as responsible members of society rather than leaving prison to continue a life of crime.
These new premises are a sign of how the government is fulfilling its commitment to help criminals become responsible members of society rather than concentrating solely on punishment. According to Tarso Genro 60% of 18-30 year old males re-offended after release from prison.
The new premises is a reflection of the investment made in public security by the government. An agreement signed in mid-2008 between the judiciary and the Ministry of National Program of Public Security and Citizenship focused on two aspects: Better care for prisoners and the families of criminals, during and after their prison sentence, and better support aimed at female victims of violence.
NUDEM has been established as a department to help female victims of crime. Specifically violent crime such as rape and domestic violence. NUDEM offers support for female victims of crime and their families. This support may come in the form of legal advice or psychiatry.
Nilce Freire stressed the need for unity, effort and the continuation of the pioneering work that is being performed by NUDEM in preventing violence against women and in the rehabilitation of offenders. She also stated that a recent survey found that in the Southeast of Brazil violence against women is a concern for 56% of citizens and 39% said that they have already reported cases of violence to the police, showing a change of attitude towards all violent crime but particularly domestic violence. Nilce Feire stated “This is a victory “. Nilce Freire finished by saying that NUDEM is just one means by which justice in Brazil can be achieved.
These new departments are the first such departments founded in Brazil are therefore unique. NUSPEN and NUDEM are considered to be national models of how a government department should be founded and run. Increased investment means that the premises, equipment and most importantly the employees are of the highest quality. A multidisciplinary team formed of professionals like social workers and psychologists, improved infrastructure, with better quality equipment and vehicles. This has led to the foundation of new, well managed and better organized departments for law and order.
The meeting was closed by the coordinator of NUDEM, Alana Rebelleo. A plaque was revealed in tribute of two female victims of domestic violence. The ceremony was also attended by the president of ADPERJ, Sara Quim, the president of ANADEP, Andrew Castro, the coordinator of NUSPEN, Mr Guida and representatives of the states of São Paulo, Tocantins, Pernambuco and Espírito Santo.
NUSPEN is based on 147 Avenida Rio Branco, and NUDEM is based on 168 Rua México.