July 7, 2011

Hitting the books in Brazil


Brazil is cutting prison terms for inmates who hit the books behind bars,” says an Associated Press wire story. “The law published Thursday in the official gazette says prisoners will get one day knocked off their sentences for every 12 hours in the classroom”

Apparently, the rule applies “to all inmates regardless of the crime they committed,” according to the AP. “The law also cuts prison sentences by one day for every three that inmates work behind bars or in work-release programs.”

The law benefits prisoners taking any and all classes from elementary through college level, and trade or professional certification courses as well. A Justice Ministry survey taken in 2010 showed that of the country’s nearly 500,000 inmates, just 40,000 were taking classes, most of them at the elementary school level.

With the new law in place, it is hoped that those numbers will change significantly.

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.