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PRISONS/ Football has its rules, world has its rights. Human rights in Brazil

Faced with the overcrowding of its traditional prisons, Brazil has developed an alternative prison system, where detainees are regarded more as people undergoing rehabilitation. By AVSI

From AVSI Foundation From AVSI Foundation

To mark the FIFA world cup 2014, the European Commission (EuropAid) launched a campaign on Human Rights in Brazil, “Football has its rules. The World has it rights”, on the EU’s work in support of respecting human rights in the country. In the Belo Horizonte region, EU is supporting alternatives to the traditional prison system: a project run by AVSI and its Brazilian partners, APACs.

Faced with the overcrowding of its traditional prisons, which has become a source of violence, Brazil has developed an alternative prison system. This ‘APAC’ method takes its name from the Association for the Protection and Assistance of Convicted persons, which has been developing the method for some forty years. This alternative system has since been rolled out across the country.

Detainees are regarded more as people undergoing rehabilitation and their psychological, social and spiritual state is monitored. Health, education and self-respect are the cornerstones of this social reintegration method. The cost of this type of prison is much lower than that of conventional prisons, escapes are extremely rare and the re-conviction rate is much lower.

The project 

A European Union project supports the structures of this alternative prison system at Belo Horizonte. By increasing the effectiveness of its organisation, it has reduced the number of acts of violence against the prison population and against former detainees. By developing more humane prisons, this project has allowed detainees to be rehabilitated and has provided them with professional training to meet the needs of local businesses.

In alternative prisons, detainees get involved in community life, take on work, and benefit from legal assistance, medical aid, training, religious support and monitoring of the progress of their social reintegration. This approach is therefore based primarily on rehabilitation through work, but not only this, since its main aim is to empower convicted persons.

and its highly experienced Brazilian partners support and strengthen the role and place of these alternative prisons. To ensure the successful conclusion of their actions and deliberations, they can rely on support from the different legal and social institutions, such as the Court of Justice of Minas Gerais or the Minas Pela Paz Institute.