RIO DE JANEIRO – The Brazilian government is considering a system of prisoner surveillance using electronic bracelets and ankle cuffs to ease prison overcrowding since it would allow almost a sixth of all inmates to be released, the press said Monday.
“Between 75,000 and 80,000 prisoners can serve their sentences while being tracked electronically,” the director of the National Penitentiary Department, Airton Michels, said in a statement published in the daily O Globo.
The country must “seek alternatives” to increasing the prison population, he said.
“Brazil already has very progressive legislation in terms of alternative sentences. The other option now is electronic tracking with the use of bracelets and ankle cuffs,” he said.
The 80,0000 inmates that can be released, mainly people awaiting trial for misdemeanors, is close to 17 percent of the total number of prisoners in the country.
The National Penitentiary Department is in charge of the project of surveillance by means of electronic bracelets.
Michels said keeping non-dangerous criminals out of prison is an alternative method for dealing with the problem of overcrowded jails.
The big problem is that the number of convicts in Brazil is increasing at an annual rate of 7.3 percent, while investment in building jails by state and municipal governments is minimal.
According to figures of the Penitentiary Department, by last December Brazil had 473,626 inmates, 44 percent of them awaiting trial, and every year the deficit in the number of places available in prisons increases by 4,000.
Michels added that there are currently several bills being considered in Congress for the electronic surveillance of prisoners, but the government could present a new one that takes into account the achievements of other countries and what Brazil needs. EFE