Supreme Court: Inmates entitled to compensation for poor jail conditions

TV Jurerê
05:50:PM - 20/Feb/2017
Supreme Court: Inmates entitled to compensation for poor jail conditions

20/02/2017 | 5:50PM

Brazil's Supreme Court (STF) decided that inmates in degrading conditions have the right to receive compensation in cash for moral damage. The court unanimously understood that overcrowding and inhumane incarceration lead to the government being responsible for  repairing the damage done towards prisoners for not complying with the constitutional right of dignity for the human person.

The matter was settled Thursday (Feb. 16) as part of a case involving an inmate who was entitled to receiving $660 in moral damage after spending 20 years in a prison in Corumbá, Mato Grosso do Sul state. He is currently serving parole.

Eight Supreme Court justices, among them STF head Cármen Lúcia, voted for the compensation. The court members only disagreed as to the payment of moral damage in the case tried.

Despite deeming the compensation rightful, Justice Luís Roberto Barroso understood that the payment in cash is inappropriate, and suggested a sentence reduction of one to three days for every seven days spent in jail under poor conditions. In his view, compensation in cash would aggravate states' fiscal situation.

Compensation in cash is bound to fail. It's bad from the fiscal perspective, it's bad for the inmate, and bad for the prison system. It's bad for the inmate because he gets [$660] and remains in the same place, under the same conditions,” he argued.

Justice Luiz Fuz agreed with Barroso, and stated that the situation in the prison is unconstitutional, which turn the convictions into cruel punishments. “The way prisoners are treated, the conditions of Brazilian jails lead to the unequivocal conclusion that punishments in Brazil are cruel,” he said.

Dignity and Integrity

Cármen Lúcia also voted for the compensation in money, and noted that, in one of the visits she paid to a prison as chairwoman of the National Council of Justice (CNJ), she saw pregnant inmates who were handcuffed during labor.

According to Cármen Lúcia, failure to comply with the law with regards to the rights of inmates also breeds corruption in the prison system.

What's facing Brazil stems from another factor: corruption—we catch a glimpse of it when we visit the penitentiaries. People are wrongfully released in exchange for some benefit. The situation is bleaker as it may seem, concerning the observance of the Law of Criminal Execution,” the justice argued.

Source: Agência Brasil