Tightening of criminal legislation advances in Congress, but divides opinions – Prime Time Zone

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Subcommittee of the Chamber discusses changes in the Penal Code, in the Penal Enforcement Law and in articles of the Statute of the Child and Adolescent and the Statute of the Elderly; experts question the effectiveness of the proposals

EBCNational Congress

A discussion that should extend throughout the second semester in the National Congress may culminate in the hardening of the fight against crime in the country. The subcommittee of Chamber of Deputies which discusses the subject analyzes proposals in progress at the Constitution and Justice Commission (CCJ) that modify the Penal Code, the Criminal Execution Law and articles of the Child and Adolescent Statute and the Elderly Statute. The changes are profound and there is no consensus in the debate. In a hearing last week, the secretary of Justice and Public Security of Minas Gerais, Rogério Greco, defended changes in the current system of regime progression. “When the Constitution prohibits forced labor, forced labor is what a normal worker would not do. It is that work that is offensive to the dignity of the human person, it is not any work that a worker does that the prisoner, because he is in prison, cannot do. What should be created is an effective system so that we can bring companies into the prison system, industries, because I need to recover this guy.”

Lúcia Helena Barros, from the National Association of Public Defenders, argued that it is necessary to assess whether the tightening of criminal law will actually help to curb crime. “Changes and laws were enacted, as I said, but it is true that our penal system, our criminality, has not changed. On the contrary, Brazil ranks third in the largest prison population in the world, as this population is made up of the vast majority of black people, poor people”, he points out. The criminal lawyer Isabela Portella reinforces that Brazilian legislation already provides for strict penalties for some crimes, as in the case of drug traffic.

“It is the crime for which he is most committed in Brazil. This shows that it is not through the stiffening of penalties that it is possible to achieve a reduction in urban violence, because criminality is more linked to a social issue than a legal one. The social issue is inequality, poor income distribution, the extremely high rate of unemployment, hunger,” he says. The rapporteur of the subcommittee, deputy Carlos Jordy, said that he sees a path towards toughening the legislation. “We have totally outdated mechanisms, such as, for example, I bring the issue of regime progression here. I would say not outdated, but extremely benevolent to criminality. Today, common crime has one-sixth of the penalty for making use of this benefit of regime progression,” he said. According to Carlos Jordy, the subcommittee was installed to respond to society in the face of the need to tighten penalties.

*With information from the reporter Letícia Santini