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The Financial Express

Reading books can reduce prison sentence in Brazil


Photo Courtesy: Globalvoices Photo Courtesy: Globalvoices

Brazil has a unique way of reducing the prison term of the inmates. Inmates who read books during their time in prison get their imprisonment time reduced, as per a report by Reuters.

Brazil is one of the most crime-prone places in Latin America. Brazil’s prisons have always been considered as places to be hosting some of the most dangerous people in the world along with many problems such as overcrowding and drug problems. 

Hence, adopting such a law has long been applauded by the country’s civil society.

The law published in Brazilian National 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 works of literature, philosophy, science or classics to trim a maximum 48 days off their sentence 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 of the inmates generally come from very impoverished backgrounds with a shallow literacy level. 

This step undertaken by the government has supposedly improved the situation a bit as many inmates are getting access to education, which might turn them away from crime in the future. 

The reading program is also heavily vetted by the authorities so that books that might negatively impact can not enter the reading list. Classics, both written in Brazil and abroad, is the genre that is represented the most among the prescribed books. Books that contain violent content are prohibited.

The law also makes sure the inmates cannot binge read their way out of the prison as one inmate is given a maximum of 12 books in one year. 

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

Although statistics are not available on how these inmates have fared after getting out of their prison life, Brazil has been an exemplary country in this regard.

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