Minister criticizes the possibility of privatizing prisons | Brazil Agency

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The Minister of Human Rights and Citizenship, Silvio Almeida, criticized the possibility of prison and socio-educational units being privatized. According to him, in addition to being unconstitutional, the measure opens up more space “for the infiltration of organized crime” in the public sector.

“I think that privatization, whether of prisons or the socio-educational system, opens space for the infiltration of organized crime […] so that organized crime can have another little piece of the Brazilian State”, said the minister during breakfast with journalists, in Brasília, this Friday (2).

For 86 public bodies and civil society entities opposed to the concession of the management of prison and socio-educational units to the private sector, in September 2023 there were more than 30 prison units in Brazil managed by private groups. And many other privatization projects were underway, such as that of the Erechim prison, in Rio Grande do Sul, auctioned by the Rio Grande do Sul government in October last year, with the support of the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES).

Prison system

The state bank’s support for negotiation was made possible thanks to the publication, in April of last year, of Decree No. 11,498. Signed by the Vice President of the Republic, Geraldo Alckmin, and the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad, the text of the decree included projects aimed at the prison system and other sectors (public security, health, education, etc.) as eligible to receive tax incentives.

In September, 86 civil society entities and public bodies opposed to the measure published a technical note in which they argue that the authorization for private companies to take over prison management will transform the sector into a “profitable market”, favoring mass incarceration.

The signatories of the note – among them the Brazilian Institute of Criminal Sciences (IBCCrim), Association of Judges and Judges for Democracy (AJD), National Association of Public Defenders (Anadep) and the Specialized Center for Prison Situations (Nesc) of the Public Defender’s Office of São Paulo – ask that the federal government rethink the offer of financial incentives, through the BNDES, for the construction, renovation and management of prisons by the private sector.

Unacceptable action

Without mentioning the mobilization of public entities and bodies against privatization, minister Silvio Almeida said he considered the privatization of prison and socio-educational units “unacceptable”.

“This cannot be done. We know the story: “Ah! But it’s just [a privatização] of the structure [da unidade]”; “It’s just to build the building. We know that, in the end, this turns into privatization of the execution of the sentence, something that cannot happen. And it cannot happen not only because of political will, but because it is unconstitutional, illegal”, said Almeida, ensuring that the ministry’s legal advisor prepared an opinion pointing out the unconstitutionality of granting prison and socio-educational units to private groups.

“The technical study and the legal advisory opinion have been ready for a long time, and we are debating [o assunto] within the government”, stated the minister, explaining, afterwards, that he has not yet spoken with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and that he hopes to discuss the issue soon with the new Minister of Justice and Public Security, Ricardo Lewandowski, sworn in in office this Thursday. “We are debating this within the government. Firstly, at the political level. That didn’t work anywhere. It opens up space for interests that are not public to interfere in an extremely problematic place and for private agents to execute the sentence or apply the socio-educational measure,” stated the Minister of Human Rights and Citizenship.

The article is in Portuguese

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