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  1. 1. Corrections/ Criminal Justice 1 Running head: CORRECTIONS/ CRIMINAL JUSTICE Corrections/ Criminal Justice [Author’s Name] [Tutor’s Name] [Class]
  2. 2. Corrections/ Criminal Justice 2 Abstract That the quality of correctional and criminal justice system interactions is the determining feature of each country’s level of social and economic development is beyond any doubts. The more regulated and civilized the correctional system is the more civilized and regulated the overall image of the country looks. In the United States, the long history of the penitentiary system has significantly contributed in the development of humane and legal principles of corrections and criminal justice. In distinction from the U.S., Brazilian system of corrections is surrounded by an array of legal and human rights controversies.
  3. 3. Corrections/ Criminal Justice 3 Corrections/ Criminal Justice: A World Apart Introduction That the quality of correctional and criminal justice system interactions is the determining feature of each country’s level of social and economic development is beyond any doubts. The more regulated and civilized the correctional system is the more civilized and regulated the overall image of the country looks. In the United States, the long history of the penitentiary system has significantly contributed in the development of humane and legal principles of corrections and criminal justice: the prison life in the U.S. has lost its destructive features, and a whole range of rehabilitation and community reintegration programs work to make a prisoner “a better person”. In distinction from the U.S., Brazilian system of corrections is surrounded by an array of legal and human rights controversies; in the current system of corrections in Brazil, the levels of safety and security leaves much to be desired, while the absence of a well-developed system of probation and rehabilitation substantially reduces ex-prisoners’ life chances to return to “normal community” life. Type of system/ institution The history of the correctional system in the U.S. dates back to the end of the 18th century, when Western societies were becoming increasingly concerned about the role, which the penitentiary had to play in regulating criminal situation. Until present, Pennsylvania Quakers were fairly regarded as the most influential prison reformers in America – and the combination of religious and social principles became the basis for the development of the correctional system in its current form (Foster, 2006). Today, the correctional system in the U.S. comprises jails, state, and federal prisons. The jail is a unit of local government and is run by a country sheriff; it is defined as a unit for the detention and correction of adults, who are either suspected or convicted of committing a crime, and as a unit with the right for detention longer than 48 hours (Foster, 2006). Federal and state prisons work to imprison
  4. 4. Corrections/ Criminal Justice 4 adults for felony crimes; today, there are more than 1,800 prisons in America (Foster, 2006).As in case with the U.S., the history of correctional system in Brazil dates back to the middle of the 19th century. It would be fair to say that in many aspects, the process of corrections system development in Brazil was heavily influenced by that in the U.S.: since 1853, when a Brazil commissioner visited America to investigate its prison design, this information and knowledge were used and incorporated into the state prison system in Brazil (Roth, 2006). Population The present day correctional system in Brazil is based on the Penal Code of 1940. Brazil has around 5,000 penal institutions in operation, including correctional institutions, penitentiaries, houses of custody and treatment, agricultural colonies, and houses of correction; these are complemented by military prisons, regular adult prisons, jails, and juvenile institutions (Roth, 2006). The general prison population in Brazil rapidly grows, with 419,551 women and men incarcerated in 2007 (Human Rights Watch, 2008). Between 2003 and 2004, 600,000 new prisoners entered the system and the number of incarcerated per 100,000 reached 182 (Lemburger, 2006). The rates of prison population growth in Brazil vary from state to state: in San Paulo alone, every month 1,000 of new prisoners enter the system (Lemburger, 2006). In the U.S., the number of incarcerated persons in 2007 was 7.3 million people; in other words, 1 in every 31 adults was either in jail, in prison, on probation, or on parole (U.S. Department of Justice, 2009). Management/ security levels The current system of prison management in the U.S. is based on the assumption that prison environment should be safe and orderly, and inmates should interact with low levels of conflict and tension. In this context, a typical prison is managed by a warden, who is essential a gatekeeper, and whose major aim is to maintain prisoners’ secure custody (Foster, 2006).
  5. 5. Corrections/ Criminal Justice 5 When it comes to correctional officers, the principles of management directly depend on the level of prison security: the lower the level, the higher the ratio of inmates to correctional officers is (Foster, 2006). In this context, special attention needs to be paid to security levels accepted and used in the American system of corrections: maximum-security prisons, close- high-security prisons, medium-security prisons, and open-security prisons (Foster, 2006). Many state prisons operate as multilevel prisons, which means that they provide several levels of security at the same time. In Brazil, however, there is no clear distinction between different security levels in jails. However, Brazil does run several prisons that can be graded according to “supermax” correctional standards: Presidente Bernardes prison in San Paulo, Catanduvas prison in Parana, and Campo Grande prison in Mato Grosso do Sul are designed for the incarceration of the criminal offenders deemed to dangerous to be kept in state prisons (Roth, 2006). The principles of prison management in Brazil are highly deregulated and vague: 25% of Brazilian states do not have any Prison Regulation; 50% of Brazilian states failed to organize manual responsibilities and functions within state prison systems (Lemburger, 2006). All these facts confirm the lack of appropriate prison management in Brazil correctional system. It should be noted, however, that since the end of the 1990s, Brazil has been increasingly interested in developing a new form of private/ governmental control of state prisons. The new initiative emerged in the form of a new model, “where the government kept the ultimate responsibility for inmate’s custody, remaining in charge of the external security and the management of the facility (the warden)” (Lukemeyer & McCorckle, 2006). Privately managed prisons were able to effectively reduce the personnel, to improve the overall quality of inmates’ life and to decrease the number of escapes (Lukemeyer & McCorckle, 2006); unfortunately, this form of prison management is still far from being
  6. 6. Corrections/ Criminal Justice 6 perfect, and prison life in Brazil is still well-known for its cruelty and direct violation of human rights. Prison life and human rights Prison life in Brazil is associated with serious overcrowding and continuous negligence toward human rights issues. “Overcrowding leading to waves of unrest, riots, and a major prison-building program has marked Brazilian prisons. Many cells rely on primitive sanitation, as Spartan as a pan on the floor in place of a toilet” (Roth, 2006). Many institutions serve only one meal a day, and cells usually have no beds. Beyond these technical issues, Brazil frequently disregards the incidence of rape and murder in state prisons (Roth, 2006). First-time offenders are often placed with more serious criminals, which lead to rape and discrimination against younger offenders. 651 inmates were killed during the first half of 2007; during riots, inmates burn themselves to death, kill and injure each other (Human Rights Watch, 2008) Lottery murdering is a widely-accepted form of relieving overcrowding in Brazilian prisons (Roth, 2008). The current 420,000 inmates exceed the system’s capacity by almost 200,000 prisoners (Human Rights Watch, 2008). Needless to say, that Brazilian states do not control legal situation of inmates, that Brazilian prisons do not have nurseries for babies, that women prisoners are deprived of the basic life benefits and provisions, and that 60% of prisoners’ mail is censored (Lemburger, 2006). In distinction from Brazil, prison life in the U.S. is completely different. While the U.S. continuously monitors and changes its human rights legislation (remember, the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 1983?), Brazil is highly reluctant to change its human rights principles: over the course of the state prison history, not a single amendment was developed and implemented to protect Brazilian inmates from discrimination.
  7. 7. Corrections/ Criminal Justice 7 The current system of corrections in the U.S. is experiencing gradual erosion of once solid prison subculture. Prisoners are able to maintain reasonable contacts with the outside world, but the overall quality of prison environment is determined not by inmates (as in Brazil) but by the prison administration (Foster, 2006). Most inmates live in new lower- security facilities; the diversification of security levels has resulted in the size changes across prisons. Prisons are filled with light, which makes is possible to trace possible misbehaviors; three meals are served on a daily basis; all prisons are equipped with the laundry, groundskeeping, dorm orderlies, and the warehouse; inmates are assigned to various types of activities, from sports and TV to church meetings (Foster, 2006). At the same time, severe discipline and disciplinary rules work to guarantee the stability of inmate atmosphere in the prison (Foster, 2006). Rehabilitation, probation, and parole systems Of course, all these prison life benefits in the U.S. would be zeroed, if not for a well- developed systems of rehabilitation, probation, and parole. Not only do American prisoners have a wide range of legal rights, including the right for appeal and criminal charges, but the U.S. actively works to engage ex-felons in different rehabilitation programs. Unfortunately, with the programs being non-mandatory, and with felons realizing that engaging in a rehabilitation program would not win them earlier release, prisons in America are undergoing a rehabilitation death change (Foster, 2006). This results in recidivism and reimprisonment, but nevertheless provides American prisoners with a wide choice of rehabilitation opportunities, from religion to education. In the same manner, parole and probation are expected to release inmates from the pressure of prison environment and to provide them with a chance for rehabilitation and integration. In the U.S., parole comes in different forms: parson, amnesty, reprieve, and commutation. Similarly, probation can work on standard
  8. 8. Corrections/ Criminal Justice 8 conditions (reporting to probation office), punitive conditions (e.g., home arrest) or treatment conditions (e.g., for substance abuse) (Foster, 2006). Everything is different with Brazil: the country does not have any rehabilitation programs, and its system of probation is extremely vague. A felon in Brazil can be eligible for probation only upon investigating his (her) conduct, and only in case of admitting the charges. Probation in Brazil (or rather, suspension of sentence) is only applicable to felons, whose penalty does not exceed two years. In terms of parole, Brazil grants prisoners with the right to be released on parole only after they serve one-third of their term (Shoham & Beck, 2007). Conclusion Although Brazilian system was influenced by the prison developments in America, the two systems are dramatically different. These differences are particularly visible through the prism of human rights protection in state prisons. Brazilian system of state prisons can be fairly regarded as unreformed and primitive. The quality of Brazilian prison life leaves much room for improvement. The U.S. way of managing prisons is the bright example Brazil can use in the process of gradual prison system improvements.
  9. 9. Corrections/ Criminal Justice 9 References Foster, B. (2006). Corrections: The Fundamentals. Prentice Hall. Human Rights Watch. (2008). Universal periodic review of Brazil. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved August 16, 2009 from periodic-review-brazil Lemburger, J. (2006). The Brazilian prison system: A brief diagnosis. Center for Studies on Public Security and Citizenship. Lukemeyer, A. & McCorckle, A. (2006). Privatization of prisons: Impact on prisons conditions. American Review of Public Administration, 36 (2): 189-206. Roth, M.P. (2006). Prisons and prison systems: A global encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. Shoham, S.G. & Beck, O. (2007). International handbook of penology and criminal justice. CRC Press. U.S. Department of Justice. (2009). Corrections statistics. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved August 16, 2009 from