Brazil will offer inmates in its crowded federal penitentiary system a novel way to shorten their sentences: four days less for every book they read.
Inmates in four federal prisons holding some of Brazil’s
most notorious criminals will be able to read up to 12 works of literature, philosophy, science or classics to trim a maximum 48 days off their sentence each year, the government announced.
Prisoners will have up to four weeks to read each book and write an essay which must “make correct use of paragraphs, be free of corrections, use margins and legible joined-up writing,” said the notice published on Monday in the official gazette.
A special panel will decide which inmates are eligible to
participate in the program dubbed “Redemption through Reading”.
“A person can leave prison more enlightened and with a
enlarged vision of the world,” said Sao Paulo lawyer Andre Kehdi, who heads a book donation project for prisons.
“Without doubt they will leave a better person,” he said.
This is despicable. Don’t be fooled by the surface feints toward leniency and literacy, this is an exploitative PR campaign.
If sentencing is so arbitrary that it could conceivably be reduced as a reward for reading a book and writing an essay, then bang those two months per year off of EVERY sentence at the outset, and don’t make HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH part of what’s being taken into account when sentences are handed down.
People with less access to (or success in) classic education are overrepresented among prison populations in general, so a weird draconian insistence on “correct use of paragraphs, free[dom from] corrections, use [of] margins and legible joined-up writing” places hoops through which less literate inmates may have difficulty jumping for reasons that have nothing to do with their worthiness of release from a punitive system which, by the way, is fundamentally unjust.
It’s a game. You’re not better if you can write a formal essay. They may as well say if you can run through this maze, or pit two softball teams against one another, or insist on a minimum score for each world of Super Mario Bros 3.
Definitely make books available. Definitely have classes that encourage analysis, critical thinking, and deep reading available, and encourage essay writing by anyone who has a yen to do so. But to tie that to the duration of a sentence? God what an insult - what a transparent concession to the fact that sentencing is not tied to the public good. It’s just a way to say “you’ve been X amount bad!”
No-one should be punished with more prison time because they haven’t prioritized paragraphs, cursive, and never editing what they’ve written as skills. What an insane idea.
No this is not LEGIT.
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