It may seem boring, tiring and repetitive to talk about the prison sentence, but in times of hyper-embarrassment it seems more than salutary to discuss the issue, given that in the case of the State of Rio Grande do Sul we have a prison population that exceeds the figure of 35,009 people imprisoned.


The increase

The increase

The number alone is already astonishing, considering the increase of more than 12% in 15 months, data for the period from December 2014 to the first week of March 2016, and this without considering the inexistence of vacancies, which we have resulted in the unacceptable permanence of prisoners in the precincts of police stations, in vehicles, handcuffed in a trash can on public roads and perhaps in containers, such inhuman, degrading, torturous and vexatious conditions, a forbidden treatment of the State, by the way. own Charter, perhaps by the International Treaties for the Protection of Human Rights, ratified, even by Brazil.

Last week, in a workshop opportunized by the Project Peace with Voice of the Reference Center on Human Rights of the Public Defender of RS, we have the presence of Ms. Vera Guilherme, who at the show of academic work, offered us with her research on the prison Central Porto Alegre, but from a look outside, through the queue of visitors.

It happens that our debate has spread through various spheres and spheres, raising questions that I had already formulated in my dissertation as well, because, after all, what is the purpose of the prison sentence, or, better, who is it?


Rational justifications


I do not raise here the so-called ‘rational’ justifications given by law, insofar as they do not convince themselves in this sense of the so-called absolute or relative theories of punishment, nor do they enter the sphere of the irrationality of punishment in itself, produced by the prison sentence itself. After all, does the violence produced by the prison sentence itself contribute to crime reduction or just foment it?

I have said on another occasion, following Leal, that prison in the form posed is one of the main factors of crime, since “violence is not a deviation from prison: it is prison itself”. It is there for criminology to lie down on the so-called effects of prison, among them, the social one, with the formation of an anomalous social system within the walls.

And at this point, we can look for an economy of power and crime that is sustained by the factions. Not least one of the many violations of human rights listed in the Representation brought to the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights, in the case of the Porto Alegre Central Prison, is the loss of internal control and the domination of the PCPA by the factions, which, and was subject to a precautionary measure, granted by the Inter-American Commission in December 2013, at that specific point.


It may be that this is why I have already maintained

It may be that this is why I have already maintained

Perhaps the greatest malaise in the penitentiary system, apart from the complete lack of structure and dignified reception conditions for the prisoner, is the total loss of the internal control of the prison by the State and the domination of this environment by the factions; symbiosis generated in the relationship between the State and factions, their maintenance and their seizure of power, is often the fruit of the most frequent violations of human rights.

The State, failing to comply with the legal precepts of domestic and international law, referring to the execution of the sentence, violates human rights. At the same time, by allowing the factions to take power within the prisons, which will use their own structure, with division of tasks and perks, thereby perpetuating the state in violation of these rights, which, now, will be the object of new violations, already on the part of this ‘new’ control of power. The question remains: who is more criminal? Who is more perverse in this context?

The high rates of recidivism are there to raise this question and, on the other hand, we can not fail to bring out what WACQUANT (2007) maintains when he analyzes the Punitive Wave in the United States, pointing to the fact that imprisonment serves to neutralize and physically store the surplus fractions of the working class, the so-called dispossessed or stigmatized.

The expansion of the police, judicial and penitentiary network of the State plays an economic and morally inseparable function of enforcing the discipline of salaried workers, reaffirming the authority of the State and the renewed will of the political elites to emphasize and impose a border between the ‘ citizens of good ‘and’ deviants’.

With the aforementioned author we still verify that the penalization serves even as a technique of invisibilization of social problems, so ‘rehabilitation’ happens to be supplanted by the so-called managerial approach, focusing the latter on the accounting management of stocks and prison flows, totally concerned with the economic and financial costs only. The idea is to control dangerous populations and when this does not happen; of their stock separately, given the destitution of social services.

Wacquant (2007, 247) realizes that this change in procedure and result results in the abandonment of the ideal of reintegration, with prison being served in this light to isolate and neutralize deviant or dangerous categories by means of a standardized surveillance and a ” stochastic risk management, whose logic evokes operational research or the withdrawal of” social waste “rather than social work.”


Restoration of order

crime of order

Prison thus, and then, focuses on the foreground, inasmuch as it is the simplest means for the restoration of order and for the judgment of all kinds of existing ‘social problems’. The image that underlies it, even within civil society, is that incarceration must return to what it was before, in its origin, properly speaking, that is, suffering, which must be greater and longer the more serious the crime committed.

Sometimes I feel like the character Dr. Simão Bacamarte de Machado de Assis, when I raise the discussion about the prison sentence: Am I the alienist? Or, who are the alienists? We need a lot to talk about imprisonment, as it is also true that the expansion of its application has not contributed to the reduction of crime, on the contrary, and something must be done, at least on this point I believe that everyone agrees.