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Get out of Jail Early – Read a Book. Brazilian Federal Inmates Now Have A Chance At Sentence Reduction By Reading

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Brazil shares a common problem with the United States — overcrowded prisons.  Now there may be enlightenment at the end of the tunnel for Brazilian prisoners.  A new program has been adopted by the four federal prisons in that country.  Inmates may now  apply to a committee for the opportunity to participate in a reading program.  The most obvious benefit of the program from the inmates’ point of view is the possibility of a reduced sentence.  From the viewpoint of society and the “system,” the yield will be twofold:  reduction in crowding and cost of the prisons, and the eventual release of more educated individuals back into the world.

The plan will not be available automatically to all inmates.  Each inmate must apply to, and be both approved and regulated by a special committee.  The books must be selected from four areas:  “literature, philosophy, science, and the classics.”

Once an inmate has finished reading a book, they have to write a book report or essay on the material.  For the essay to pass through the committee, it must be gramatically correct, neatly composed, and demonstrate a grasp on the subject matter.  If the essay then passes, that inmate will receive a four day reduction of his or her prison sentence.  This process may take place a maximum of once per month, resulting in a possible reduction in prison sentence of up to forty-eight days per year per inmate.

Lawyer Andre Kehdi heads a book donation program for Brazil’s prison system.  He says, “A person can leave prison more enlightened and with an enlarged vision of the world.  Without doubt they will leave a better person.”

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