Reading books can reduce jail time in Brazil

Brazil has a unique way of reducing prison terms for inmates. Inmates who read books while in prison see their jail time reduced, according to a Reuters report.

Brazil is one of the most crime-prone places in Latin America. Brazilian prisons have always been considered places of accommodation for some of the most dangerous people in the world, as well as many problems such as overcrowding and drug problems.

Thus, the adoption of such a law has long been applauded by the country’s civil society.

The law published in the Brazilian Official Gazette in 2012 states,

“Inmates in four federal prisons holding some of Brazil’s most notorious criminals will be able to read up to 12 literary, philosophical, scientific or classic works to reduce their sentence to a maximum of 48 days each year.”

The authorities also test them as they have to write essays on their reading materials where the authorities judge the correct use of language and grammar.

In Brazil, most inmates generally come from very poor backgrounds with low literacy.

This measure taken by the government has supposedly improved the situation a bit as many inmates have access to education, which may deter them from crime in the future.

The reading schedule is also heavily controlled by the authorities so that books that might have a negative impact cannot enter the reading list. The classics, written in Brazil and abroad, are the most represented genre among the prescribed books. Books with violent content are prohibited.

The law also ensures that inmates cannot excessively read to get out of prison, as an inmate receives a maximum of 12 books in a year.

Besides Brazil, similar arrangements are also made for inmates in Finland, where they can complete their education in prison. However, unlike in Brazil, this does not affect the prison time of Finnish prisoners.

Although statistics are not available on how these inmates behaved after their release from prison, Brazil has been an exemplary country in this regard.

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About Marcia G. Hussain

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