Brazil's prison system faces 'profound deterioration' if youth crime law passes

  • Justice minister warns of crisis in ‘terrible’ overcrowded penitentiaries
  • Congress expected to approve reduction in age of criminal responsibility to 16

Brazil’s justice minister has described his country’s violent and overcrowded prison system as “terrible” and warned that it will only get worse if congress votes this week to lower the age of criminal responsibility.

José Eduardo Cardozo ordered the early publication of a justice ministry report on prison overcrowding ahead of a vote on Tuesday over legislation which would reduce the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 for serious offences involving violence.

The new statistics show that Brazil’s prison population has doubled in the last 10 years and now contains more than 220,000 inmates over its capacity. Lowering the age of criminal responibility will add up to 40,000 more inmates to the system, Cardozo said.

Brazil has the world’s fourth-largest prison population, after the...

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