The changes in prison life determined by the CCP


Continuing last week’s article, I was hiding from the vision of GOE staff and seeing the “human ladder” reaching the top of the wall. One by one they are hiding, lying down the passage of the wall. I wondered, but why all this was happening, what was wrong with the prison system in São Paulo? Many questions came to my mind and I had no answer to any of them, after all I still had not even completed a year of service, I was still “crawling in jail”.

“What we see, therefore, is that there is an insoluble problem in the construction of prisons. But if we could solve this problem by building prisons, at this rate and at this cost, I still think we would not solve the penitentiary problem; because this problem is really unsolvable if we think of solutions within the penitentiary system as it is conceived today.

It is not a matter of lack of resources alone; developed countries, with resources much superior to ours, with an ideal body of therapists, and an equally ideal staff, with adequate human resources and material resources, have not solved the problem of recovering the condemned person. This is a tragedy now known in the United States, in Sweden (sic), in all countries at last, where deficiency can not be accounted for by the lack of resources.

It turns out that the sentence of imprisonment, as such, to be executed in prisons, does not work for the double purpose that is formally recognized for this type of sanction. The formal goals of punishment are to punish and recover; this binomial contains two elements that repel each other; which are antagonistic, which are not compounded: punishing and recovering at the same time is a very difficult thing to conceive, considering what happens from the placement of this binomial into a prison situation.

Prison System

Prison System

Let us think that it is permissible, as it were, to reconcile the philosophical and pragmatic aspects of the dispute between the retributionists and the utilitarians, and to recognize in the penalty its double function, which would be to punish because it sinned and recover so that it does not sin again. The purpose of this synthesis, if it is possible philosophically in practice is very difficult to achieve the objective results, given that when we are in a prison situation we find, as recently observed in a Report presented to the American Government, Professor David Vogell, who is Executive Director of Illinois Law Enforcement Commission, saying that it was necessary to recognize that the prison system is not capable of recovering anyone; which led another major American penologist, Professor Norman Carlson, to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in the United States to say that we would have to make a choice to give it one of its characteristics: either punish or recover because doing both together would not be possible.

Why (sic) is not possible? From a philosophical point of view, we could still try to reconcile these two ideas and, apparently, in the process of education this works; but we mistakenly think that it works in the process of education, because in reality in the process of the child’s education, in the education of the child, in the education of the young, we are not trying to recover; we are trying to form. So punishing to form is different than punishing to reform, this is even more difficult to achieve in a closed prison system.

When we make a sociological cut, from this very peculiarly structured society that is the Prison Society, we look for some evidence that for a long time, I do not know how, have gone unnoticed – but that are solar evidences.

Let’s put some of them: the first – the man who enters a typical and peculiar social system, becomes part of this system. It would be too pretentious to want us to put a man in a closed prison system and we wanted him to be guided by rules that do not enforce that system. The norms of that coexistence, of that type of society, are peculiar norms; the experience of that system is more a peculiar experience; the virtues we esteem are not the virtues in that peculiar system; and in two words: the arrested man must learn not to die in order to live. The rules he will learn, in the first place, are the informal rules of that kind of society in which he comes to live; the virtues for him, in the coexistence of that environment, are the virtues of that environment and not ours; our projects will be very good for him 20 years from now when he will serve his sentence. But today, he must survive; and to survive today he must learn the law of that environment; and this law is the law of the dog; it is not the law that we want him to learn.

When we set our formal goals, such as multiplying rules of conduct, multiplying rules of conduct, multiplying regulatory norms, he quickly learns those rules so that he will suffer as little as possible in that environment; he becomes extremely obedient; he becomes extremely cooperative – since if he does not cooperate he suffers consequences. He learns immediately how he can act, not because he assimilates these norms inwardly, but because it is useful for him not to practice any regulatory failure.

This transforms a man, whom we intend to meet immediately, in a man who does not want to let himself be known. What happens then, in this system is that we lacquer a delinquent personality; on the outside, we give you the appearance of a cooperative person, a person who desires recovery, a person who is being intertwined in the penitentiary system, as a good sense of recovery; when it is not true: he is living a double role; he is living the role of the man who does not want to be punished for infraction of regulatory norms and that of a man who does not want to be punished by his companions if he does not behave as they wish him to behave in that way.

In this case what are the most important rules for him, from the point of view of adhesion of the will? It is those rules of the environment in which he lives, and which will help him to survive, not our norms, the moral norms of our social group, with which he is not coexisting at the moment; therefore, he can postpone, for a more or less distant future, the learning of these truths that we want him to learn. First he will learn the norms of that medium; this phenomenon is called today, scientifically, and Penology, Prisonization , the man who is imprisoned.

On the other hand, if punishment is important for the penal system, and recovery is also important, it is a very interesting truth to observe from a practical point of view: it has never been heard that a prison director had been punished, or an accused or administrative prosecution, because an inmate, who left the prison where the director performs his duties, had not recovered and returned two months later as a repeat offender. The director was never charged with the failure to fulfill his duty – which was to have recovered that prisoner; there was never a public outcry about it.

The target recovery is not required, as far as a cogent compliance, by public opinion.

But if there is an escape from a prison, if a single man fled, there is an administrative inquiry, there is an investigation, there are punishments, there are suspensions, there are even layoffs; because public opinion rises against flight; the newspapers blatantly expose an escape of prisoners – the more sensational, the more elaborate the escape, the more repercussion in the newspapers and more responsibilities for the directors.

So what happens is that principals find it much more important not to let a prisoner escape than to recover a prisoner. Discipline and security become the great goal of all prisons. This has fundamental implications for examining the problem: for any prison director, discipline, order, and obedience to the norms within the prison are much more important than any educational consideration. So for example an inmate practices a fault and goes to punishment; he is not released to attend classes and to go to the workshop to work; but the important thing is to fulfill the punishment. “(PIMENTEL, 1953, pp. 113 ff.) – gf –

I begin to observe the arrival of many staff, personnel from other Units, curious, visitors and relatives of prisoners begin to arrive and there begin to improvise a type of a camp. The mass media were also there to make that cheap sensationalism they always do, which “wash the mind” of the population at large, only increasingly encouraging violence, causing a public outcry for lawmaking and increasingly inflating our criminal legislation with that false flag that more laws and more severe laws solve any crime problem. When will you learn that Criminal Law is the ultima ratio and not the prime ratio ?

Behold, a member of the GIR stands up very carefully that no one should see him, it was a dark, moonless night and that helped him on this mission. Even rubbing himself along the guardrail, he stood upside down toward the inside of the wall, I wondered and wondered, where did he get hooked to do that? I remembered Army times where we did Rapel and Lepar, but that technique I did not know yet. And they went down that way, but everyone going through that member, I think that way it was harder to be seen with the naked eye. They all went down and the last one came down too, they were all lying in a low crawl position. They wait a little and one of them makes a sign, a gesture of command. At that moment I remembered the instructions when I was in the army that told us to obey the rules about noise, light and so on. Really they were very well trained and were not there for fun, after all, many lives were in their hands. With this gesture an Indian line of crawling started toward the opposite side where there was the Housing Radius closest to the wall, they had undoubtedly studied a sketch of the Unit and outlined their mission before entering the Prison Unit, which was in the possession of the mutineers and commanded by the CCP. They were crawling along a long route and suddenly they disappeared in the middle of the darkness and I could no longer keep track of what else they were performing.