Prison system – the labyrinth of punishment

Mona Hatoum, Cubo, 2008
Whatsapp
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Telegram

By MARCO MONDAINI

Excerpt, selected by the organizer, from the recently released book

The 232.755st century marks Brazil's entry into the “era of mass incarceration” and official figures on the exponential growth of people imprisoned in the country leave no room for any kind of doubt about this. In the space of two decades, the national prison population jumped from 2000 (in the year 832.295) to 2022 (in the year 350), that is, a growth of more than XNUMX%.

The fact that we had at the head of the Federal Executive Branch, in this period of almost a quarter of a century, rulers of the most diverse political-ideological colors and party groups – Fernando Henrique Cardoso (PSDB), in the center; Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) and Dilma Rousseff (PT), in the center-left; Michel Temer (MDB), on the right; Jair Messias Bolsonaro (PL), on the extreme right – seems to demonstrate that the “punitive wave” that hit the nation brings with it elements of determination that, in order to be properly understood, need to go beyond specific political circumstances.

Our neoliberal penal state – which swallows, government after government, amidst multiple tensions, the democratic state of law derived from the 1988 Federal Constitution – follows a global trend originating in the United States of America, but sinks its roots in a deep and receptive to its ideals and practices: the terrain of the social economic structures of a country that formed its dependent and peripheral capitalism from the violence of colonial slavery and an unequal development modality.[I]

Circumscribing, however, the situation experienced in the first quarter of the 21st century, what can be seen is that the gigantic Brazilian prison inflation is the result of a reality resulting from the perverse encounter between the prohibitionist “war on drugs” policy and detention permanent detention of prisoners without a definitive conviction – which ends up making provisional detention no longer an exceptional resource, but becoming more of a rule.

Having become a massive phenomenon, incarceration not only aggravates the inhumane conditions of the prison system, due to overcrowding, but also greatly contributes to the naturalization of the fact that prison is a space for imposing suffering on individuals and groups of individuals selected by the State, therefore: “Suffering and harm are inherent to any prison. The production of pain is inseparable from the State's power to punish. The very idea of ​​pity is the idea of ​​suffering. The power given to the State to punish is, ultimately, the power to inflict suffering” (KARAM, 2020, p. 35).

Thus, prison hyperinflation imposed by the neoliberal penal State enhances what has characterized prison since its historical genesis, due to the fact that: “In addition to producing suffering and violence, the State's power to punish promotes stigmatization, marginalization, inequality and discrimination, primarily targeting groups already at a social disadvantage” (Ibid., p. 37).

In this way, defended as one of the most important instruments for combating the crime that had been plaguing the country since its redemocratization in the 1980s, Brazilian prisons became an additional ingredient – ​​powerful, by the way – in the construction of a society that lives in fear of living under democracy, having opted for the “desire for a safe life in isolated spaces, segregated from social disorder and differentiated in relation to the dangers of contagion with unequals” (LAMIN, p.164).

As an extreme limit of distance from the “dangers of contagion with unequals”, the overcrowded Brazilian prisons of the “era of mass incarceration” represent not only a problem to be solved in the field of criminal law, but, also and mainly, a issue to be faced, through its retraction, so that Brazilian democracy survives and is democratized with the integration of those who suffer, inside and outside its prisons, due to the color of their skin and their social class.

*Marco Mondaini, historian, is a professor at the Department of Social Service at UFPE and presenter of the program Trilhas da Democracia.

Final considerations of chapter 1, entitled “The new end of prison”.

Reference


Marco Mondaini (org). Prison system: the labyrinth of punishment. São Paulo, Alameda, 2024, 298 pages. [https://amzn.to/44fLudj]

REFERENCES


KARAM, Maria Lucia. “Abolish prisons: for a world without bars” in LAMIN, Cristiane. “Fear, violence and insecurity” in LIMA, Renato Sérgio de & PAULA, Liana de (orgs.). Public safety and violence. Is the State fulfilling its role? São Paulo: Contexto, 2021, p. 151-171.

PIRES, Guilherme Moreira (org.). Abolitionisms. Anti-punitive voices in Brazil and libertarian contributions. Florianópolis: Habitus, 2020, p. 33-40.

Note


[1] See, in this regard: MONDAINI, Marco. “'Balance of antagonisms' versus 'unequal development': the place of the Northeast in Brazilian social formation” in MOTA, Ana Elizabete; VIEIRA, Ana Cristina; AMARAL, Angela (org.). Social Service in the Northeast. From origins to renewal. São Paulo: Cortez, 2021, p. 48-60.


the earth is round there is thanks to our readers and supporters.
Help us keep this idea going.
CONTRIBUTE

See this link for all articles

10 MOST READ IN THE LAST 7 DAYS

______________
  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis
  • Letter to the presidentSquid 59mk,g 18/06/2024 By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JÚNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI: “We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank
  • The strike at federal Universities and Institutescorridor glazing 01/06/2024 By ROBERTO LEHER: The government disconnects from its effective social base by removing those who fought against Jair Bolsonaro from the political table

AUTHORS

TOPICS

NEW PUBLICATIONS