By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The Ministry of Justice released a study on Tuesday showing that Brazil is the country with the fourth largest prison population in the world, falling only behind the United States, China and Russia. Now according to Brazil’s Justice Minister, Eduardo Cardozo, if the bill on the reduction of the criminal responsibility age, being discussed in Congress at the moment, were passed into law, the already overcrowded prison system in Brazil would become even worse.
“If there is a reduction in the criminal responsibility age, the numbers of this survey will become much worse,” said Minister Cardozo during the presentation of the survey. “That is why I have released this study, so that Congress and society may debate about the issue and decide if this is really the path we should take.”
“For the Ministry of Justice and the federal government, it is not,” added the official. According to Cardozo if the bill is passed the prison system would receive an extra 30,000 to 40,000 youths per year.
The study shows that prisons have on average 65 percent more prisoners than they were originally built to hold, with over 607,000 incarcerated in facilities meant to hold a little over 376,000.
“The conditions of the Brazilian prison system is very bad,” Cardozo said of the study. “I am absolutely convinced that one of the main problems of our public security is due to the conditions of our prison system,” he added.
Chamber of Deputies Speaker, Eduardo Cunha, has promised a final vote on the controversial bill by the Lower House by June 30th. Since the bill is an amendment to the Brazilian Constitution, it must pass through both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate with at least two-thirds of the votes and not a simple majority plus one, as in a regular bill.