Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – There is a Brazilian statute, abbreviated “ECA” which provides that anyone under the age of eighteen who commits a crime, no matter how heinous, cannot be punished by anything more drastic than spending three years in a “socio-educational center”.
That’s right! Even if you cold-bloodedly murder someone, as long as your 18th birthday hasn’t happened, you can only remain in custody for three years. And it’s not in a jail, where adult criminals are held, it’s got to be in a juvenile facility.
This situation has come to light twice recently over in São Paulo. The first was 50+ days ago, when a band of Corinthians rooters at a football match in Bolivia, shot off nautical flares into the Bolivian section of the crowd, heedless of possible harm. One of these “rojões” killed a nineteen year old Bolivian.
Only a few days after the event, as if by magic, out of the blue, with the Corinthians rooters still in Bolivian jail, a 17.5 year old from São Paulo, wearing a Corinthians shirt and proudly proclaiming his loyalty to his fellow rooters, appeared in a São Paulo court, and said “I did it.”
No one in Bolivia or São Paulo believes this. This kid has “confessed” because he knows that if the Brazilian judicial system is dumb enough to believe him, it will not sentence him to any more than three years of “social education”, even if he did kill another human being.
Last week, a São Paulo university student aged nineteen was killed by a person aged seventeen years and 362 days, because the smart-ass college kid had a cell phone he wouldn’t give up. When arrested, age eighteen and a day, the killer readily confessed. After all, he’s already been “socio-educated”.
The Governor of São Paulo says he’s going to try to change the national Penal Code to lower the age of criminal responsibility to sixteen. The President and Vice President of Brazil, along with loads of other bleeding hearts, are against this measure. They say, and apparently some even believe, that juvenile murderers can be “socio-educated”. They ought to know better.
The Brazilian socio-educational centers are training schools for sociopaths. They promote the older and more hardened criminals into leadership roles, so they can teach the “youngsters” how to steal and kill without being caught—all before they turn eighteen.
On the other hand, the President and Vice President and their sympathizers are all in favor of letting young people vote at age sixteen. Brazilian youths are deemed responsible enough to discern political right from wrong, and to elect government officials, but they are not deemed responsible for criminal acts. This reasoning is completely senseless, clearly contrary to all human experience, and morally reprehensible.
In the U.S., you have to be eighteen to vote, but you will be treated as an adult criminal if you’re sixteen or older. The Curmudgeon does not maintain that there are fewer seventeen year old criminals there than here in Brazil. But he does maintain that any seventeen year old who kills another human being should not be allowed back into society for a very, very long time.
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, fetched up on these shores exactly 35 years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)