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The other day I spoke with a very close friend of mine and for privacy purposes, she will remain anonymous. We were talking about her family back in Brazil and I asked her to show me some pictures. One of her brothers didn't have any sort of social networking whereas the rest of her family did. When I asked why, she responded "Well, he's in jail." I began to ask her more about it and our light conversation about family turned very serious. What horrified me the most is not why her brother is in jail but how the prisoners and especially the people who go to visit are treated. I knew that conditions in prisons in any impoverished country were probably not ideal, but I never expected to hear what she told me.

I asked her if she wouldn't mind if I interviewed her so that I could have a more official record of our conversation and I could use it to write something for DailyKos so we set up an interview for the next day and this is her story:

I asked her to give me some background on her family, she said,

"I have a very normal family. My mom is an architect and my dad is an economist.... I used to go to school like any normal kid. Hang out with my friends. Then everything changed."
My friend is from a middle class family in Rio De Janeiro.  She didn't come from the stereotypical idea of what a Brazilian prisoner's family would be. She didn't grow up in the slums, the favelas. She lived similarly to any American teenager. She went to a private school and hung out at the beach in her free time. She said that her parents
"studied all their life so that their kids could have whatever they want. My mom, she started to work when she was 13. They were always the best in their college, they had really high grades. And for me, I never had to go to these horrible places, you know?"
She is a prime example of the result of the people in Brazil who truly fight against the hardships of their country. Sounds similar to the American dream doesn't it? A family who works hard to make their way up in the world despite difficulties to provide a better life for their children and, yet they still are subject to being affected by the corruption of the Brazilian justice system.
I went on to ask her about what exactly happened with her brother. She said that he was arrested for illegal possession of a gun. She explained to me that,
"It's almost not legal in Brazil to have a gun. Only cops, prosecutors to a crime and a judge since they are all in danger."
I was surprised by this. I do understand that there are a lot of problems with violence in Brazil so maybe it is best that they are nearly illegal but at the same time for a man to not be able to have a gun to protect himself outside of his house in one of the most violent cities in the world, "the city of god", seems counterintuitive. I am not someone who advocates the use of guns in any sense but it still made me wonder. When I asked her if she thought it was necessary for a person in Brazil to carry a gun with them for protection she said,
"No, no but I used to carry a knife in my purse with me at all times. Is that normal here?... I'd rather fight than be abused."
If someone from one of the nicer areas in Rio thinks it's dangerous enough to need to carry a knife around with her at all times, I think that there could be some justification for having a gun for protection.
I asked her what happened when her brother was arrested, she said,
"His daughter was born for like 2 weeks. He was talking to a friend about her. The cops arrived and started to shoot at him. He was without a gun so he couldn't even react. Then they handcuffed him and took him to his house. He gave them the gun. He went to the precinct to give his testimony, he and his wife. It was not a normal precinct. They had really aggressive cops. His wife was with the baby who was only two weeks old. They were there for 12 hours with the baby and weren't given any food and were not able to change the baby. And they make [his wife] sign papers that said he committed 3 crimes. In the condition she was in, she couldn't read them... She was very scared; she was with a baby with two weeks. They were very aggressive and so she just signed it."
From there they were released and he was given a chance to defend himself.  However, in Brazil it is totally acceptable for a lawyer to never even see the judge and go to court. Instead, my friend said that,
"The lawyer, he didn't talk to the judge. He just wrote a letter. And he got sentenced without proof of some of the crimes."
The only crime that they had any proof of was gun possession but he was also charged with theft and a few other things.  He was then sent to jail, to solitary confinement for 80 days. From there, he was transferred to a prison cell that was no larger than your average living room with over 30 men. The only thing in the cell besides the men was a single toilet in the corner. When I asked her if they had any beds she began to laugh and said,
"Oh no, in jail who needs beds?"
And as far as showering,
"They could shower once a day and it's like 110 Fahrenheit. Imagine, 30 guys in one cell when it is that hot, showering once a day."

Criminals in Brazil are also separated into cells by the types of crimes that they commit.
"He was with the same guys who were child abusers. He got crazy there because he has two kids and he is a normal person. As a normal person, he hates people who do that."
I didn't realize that criminals in the Brazilian jails were separated in such a way. When I asked her more about it, she said,
"In prisons, people get killed a lot by other prisoners... The drug dealers of different favelas can kill each other. It is like a war at all times. You know, isn't it like that here? Like, people are in different groups in the jail so they can survive. Drug dealers from the same place are in the same place so they can protect themselves. Child abusers don't survive in jail for the most part. I really think that it's the worst crime. But really I think they could kill them, like you know, inject them or something, because everyone knows that they will die in jail. They are monsters but they have families too. People die in jail. Like without their head. You know the Brazilian Fritzl? His head was cut off and his body was burned in jail. No one deserves to be tortured. You're not God, you know?"
The overall worst part of the state of the justice system in Brazil in my opinion is really how horribly the families of the criminals are treated. They don't commit the crimes so why are they then punished as well? Such as, her brother's 2 week old baby who was taken to the precinct for 12 hours with no way to change his diaper and no food for her brother's wife. I asked her what it is like for a family member to go visit someone in jail, she said,
"We have to make a card, a visitor card. And... our clothes must be white. We have to wear flip flops. Before we enter, we have to take off our clothes. It doesn't matter if you have 6 years old or 70. You need to show that there is nothing on your body. And this is not the worst one. In [the prison] Bangu 2, people have to take off their clothes. And they need to be totally naked. I think it's more for girls, I'm not sure, but since guys cannot hide anything by their penis. The girls must lower themselves totally naked over a mirror so that they can check to see if they have drugs or something inside of the vagina. I know a girl. She was 15 and a virgin. Her dad was in jail... for 3 years... So, she was crying but she needed to see her dad to see if he was okay or not. She was crying and totally humiliated. Her dad didn't let her visit him anymore because he knew what happened."
I was of course shocked and disgusted by this. I seriously couldn't believe that they would force visitors to get completely naked to make sure that they weren't sneaking anything into the jail, including 15 year old girls. I asked her if this discouraged her from seeing her brother and she said,
"I don't have to be in the mirror but I know its humiliating. I will see my brother, no matter what I have to do. His condition in jail is worse than, I can't even imagine. My mom is 55 years old and she has to do it. She has to stay naked in front of the cops. It is women for women and men for men. But even his son, who is 6 years old must do it too if he wants to visit his father."
I asked her if before we had talked if she knew that people in America were not subjected to being searched totally naked before visiting someone in jail, she said,
"No, I thought it was the same here. For me, it's too normal. It's bad, it's humiliating but it's normal. I've known this for all my life."
I went on to ask her about how the entire situation affected her family. She said that it's been really hard for her and everyone else. She began to explain that if she was in his position,
"I prefer to die, really. Even a year with a cell with 30 guys, I prefer to die. And imagine, being in a cell with child abusers. I really think that he didn't kill himself yet because of his family, his kids and my mom. Everyone loves my brother, really everyone. He gives things to poor people. Since he was little everyone likes him. He's so nice. I would kill myself 500 times to help my brother. I would do anything for him. It's seriously terrible to think he is in these conditions... You know, [my family is] really concerned about me saying this today. They think that I will be judged like I am a whore or something, like I have a terrible family. A part of the family doesn't know [about my brother being in jail] because we think that they will not understand. I don't really care [about talking about my brother] but they do so I respect them."
Additionally, all of these nuances are horrible but on a broader scope, she also explained to me that in Brazil you can also pay any cop so that they don't arrest you. She didn't even realize that this wasn't an option in America. She said that,
"We can pay like 50 reais which is equal to about 30 dollars so that we don't get a ticket. Whatever they are charging you for. If you have money there, you will not go to jail. Like real money, if you are really rich you could kill whoever you want. You can do whatever you want."
What I truly cannot seem to grasp is why I would not know about how horrible it is in other countries around the world unless I was truly seeking out information. Why aren't we taught in school about the hardships of the world? About social justice? The problems of our world are continuing because people aren't being taught about them, those who have the capacity and capability to help are usually blind to the problems outside of the small circle that encompasses the depth of their lives. Many of the people in impoverished countries don't realize that their system isn't universal, that there are other ways of handling justice. We need to be taught about the atrocities of the world early. If we don't learn about these things starting when they are young, how likely is it that we will be compelled to do learn or anything about it in the future?

Maybe it seems shocking that I, as a 17 year old girl, am talking about people being murdered in jails and young girls being sexually humiliated in order to visit family. But if I am truly too young, if I should really be sheltered from just hearing about this, then who's sheltering the people who have to actually experience it? Isn't it so much worse that a 6 year old boy must be stripped totally naked and sexually humiliated to see his father than for me to hear or talk about it? Is it so horrible that we shouldn't talk about this in schools? Because we should. We should be talking about it. We should be disgusted and horrified. We should be outraged. It is not right. So why shelter ourselves from it? We need to confront these atrocities if anything is ever going to change.

That is one of the major problems with America, we have battles over censorship and yet, we choose to censor ourselves every day. We don't want to see homeless people in the streets; we want to arrest them or push them into poorer areas. We fight against comprehensive sexual education so that our children can learn about abstinence only. We are given the version of Times magazine with a cover about "Why anxiety is good for you" instead of images of war and revolution. We watch the G rated animal cartoon movie called Rio, instead of the R rated movie City of God based on a true story of the drug wars in Rio. We do this because we don't want to face reality. If we don't see it, then it must not be our problem.

Well, I am sick of this attitude toward the world around us and I am determined to change that. We need a world in which we confront problems head on. Doesn't that sound like the most efficient way to handle things? Instead of selectively choosing who knows and confronts what, while keeping everyone blind, we confront problems as a whole. Certain things may be painful to handle but wouldn't that be better than letting the pain of people around the world to continue? Think to yourself. Would you rather be lied to or told a painful truth? That's how we should look at the world.

I will not stop writing and speaking out until there is nothing left to say. I will happily fight until I am an old woman, until hopefully what I do will still continue in the fight for justice even when I am dead. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. You know, I think I just realized why I've been so drawn to foreign affairs and learning languages for my whole life. I thought that maybe it was a good direction for me since language learning and communication has always been natural for me. But maybe, beyond that, I'm really meant to change the world.

Originally posted to RoyaHegdahl on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 06:34 AM PST.

Also republished by PacNW Kossacks and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  RoyaHegdahl, thank you for shining a light (15+ / 0-)

    so that others awaken & act.  You, and others of the younger generation, bring hope & admiration to this elder's heart.

    Safe harbors and courage as you follow your path.

  •  RoyalH - beautifully put together diary. (14+ / 0-)

    Nicely woven combination of her facts and your reactions.

    Heartbreaking, isn't it? I had a friend, a stupid young gringo I was going to college with for my jr. yr abroad, who ended up in jail in Colombia (in the 1970s) for 2 years before he was even tried.... The corruption and brutality and 'living' conditions are impossible to imagine.

    How long is your friend's brother in for?

    "I can't do it by myself. No president can. Remember: Change doesn't happen from the top. It happens because of you." B Obama, 2008

    by nzanne on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 07:23:59 AM PST

  •  Well done, Roya..... (9+ / 0-)

    I am sad for your friend and I am inspired by your new-found passion for writing in the public sphere. Your story is a window into the reality of a brutal life, outside our well insulated country that may not be so far off for any of us, but for the luck of being born here.

    You can continue to serve at

    by rickeagle on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 07:53:39 AM PST

  •  So sad.... (7+ / 0-)

    ...But beautifully written. What a good friend you are to bring you friend's plight (and that of many others) to light.
    I love your writing, your attitude, and the young woman that you are.... You are an inspiration! xoxo

    If we're supposed to be such a great nation, then we should effing act like it... Healthcare for America NOW!

    by suz in seattle on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 08:58:50 AM PST

  •  A very hard diary to read... (12+ / 0-)

    ...but you told a story that must be told - thank you. A wise man once told me that buying something nice for yourself makes you feel good for a moment, but being unconditionally kind to a neighbor makes you feel good all day. I wish this philosophy was taught worldwide.

  •  and the US helps other countries be like that... (12+ / 0-)

    we do not speak out against abusive systems in countries we have good relations with... so officially abuse in Iran or Syria or North Korea is bad... in China ? not good... but we give them a pass... improving...

    And we sell them policing equipment and supplies and train their some of there police in political and crowd control tactics... and wonder why they do some of the things they do.

    And we can say well The US justice system is so much better than this or that country, so why do people complain about US justice?.... and they ignore the gulf between being in prison in say Norway or other enlightened countries and the US... compared to them we are little better than Nigeria lite or a kinder gentler Brazil...

    I hope Brazil and so many others with a severe legacy of judicial and police injustice that drags them down and makes reforms next to impossible find a way to make hope for improvements more than a distant dream.

    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

    by IreGyre on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 10:49:24 AM PST

    •  Exactly! (6+ / 0-)

      And if we didn't just leave it to other people in our country and/or government to "fix", I really think that we'd be able to actually help.
      I really think if a country is going to have any change, the system of justice needs to change first in a way that the people will respect it. It's like a parent that tells you what to do with out doing it themselves. Listen to me but I won't listen to you. There needs to be some sort of mutual respect between a country and it's people before change can happen. If even the justice system is corrupt, then why would they listen to anything else?

    •  Give them a pass? Hell, we created all of this. nt (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RoyaHegdahl, Lujane, rickeagle

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

      by Greyhound on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 01:08:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The US incarceration rate is #1 in the world. (7+ / 0-)

      743 per 100,000.  Brazil is #49 at 253/100,000.  Not sure which country has the most severe legacy of judicial and police injustice.  Only that the US deprives three times as many people of liberty.

      •  a tough choice... innocent locked up where? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        30 people to a room, no beds far more dangerous to your health and life... or a US prison with long mandatory sentences and maybe nice prison labor deal for corporations to keep you occupied... there is still a statistical danger from guards and other prisoners but mostly in the tougher prisons... and I doubt that a lot of prison systems in the world have degree programs, education like in Europe, US and Canada.... and other advanced nations... but that said... very uneven situation from state to state... access to books even varies. So I'd prefer to grumble about only being allowed 4 books at any one time instead of "which one of the kid rapers in this cell is going to kill me?"

        The US has quantity, a sure winner there... how about "quality"... well comparatively better than many yes... the soul killing regimes in US prisons are in some ways "better" than a South American prison or any 3rd world prison... where it is not unusual to survive only because relatives pay to get decent food to you... and the conditions are best described as primitive.

        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

        by IreGyre on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 04:01:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Jeez, we know a family moving to Sau Paulo soon (4+ / 0-)

    She's being transferred there by IBM, with husband and two kids under eleven years old in tow.

    GOP = Greedy One Percent

    by Palafox on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 12:26:30 PM PST

  •  Roya, you (5+ / 0-)

    hit it out of the park once again. Both your writing and your passion are to be admired.

    Ceiling Cat rules....srsly.

    by side pocket on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 12:42:15 PM PST

  •  Brazil is not an impoverished country... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RoyaHegdahl, Lujane, rickeagle

    it is one of the fastest growing economies in South America.

    I would think this would be worth writing our own State Department about and asking what we are doing as a country to promote human rights in Brazil. I would ask if they are even aware of this... maybe they aren't.

    I do know that two large cities, including Rio de Janiero, are currently experiencing strikes from their police unions. Sounds like there might be a lot more to investigate.

    •  Althought they may have the fastest growing (7+ / 0-)

      economy in South America, I don't believe that it necessarily makes them not impoverished. The definition of impoverished is "poverty stricken" and maybe you would still consider them not poverty stricken but from what I've read and heard from my friends who have lived there, the standard of living is bad for quite a large part of the population. They are known to have one of the largest gaps between rich and poor in the world and in my opinion, if the economy is growing but the people are still suffering, then they are still impoverished.

      •  They are not unlike Argentina where we live right (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RoyaHegdahl, rickeagle, 207wickedgood

        now. The gap between rich and poor is huge but the nation itself is doing very well. Brazil are actually the richest nation in South America.

        The economy of Brazil is the world's seventh largest by nominal GDP and eighth largest by purchasing power parity.[13] Brazil has moderately free markets and an inward-oriented economy. Its economy is the largest in Latin American nations and the second largest in the western hemisphere.[14]

        Brazil is one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world with an average annual GDP growth rate of over 5 percent. In Brazilian reals, its GDP was estimated at R$ 3.143 trillion in 2009. The Brazilian economy has been predicted to become one of the five largest economies in the world in the decades to come.[15]

        I'm not saying that Brazil is without it's problems but when describing it, impoverished is the last word I would use, that's all. I think we should save that word for nations that are truly struggling to bring a decent life to any of their citizens.
      •  Found one other fact that might help you (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RoyaHegdahl, rickeagle

        reconsider your definition, though I will admit, it all depends on how a nation defines poverty. People in the US below the poverty rate is 15% of our population. Brazil is 8.5%.

        The unemployment in Brazil is 4.7%... what a gorgeous number. Anything under 5% is considered good for an economy. The US is still up there at 8.3%.

        Keep working on the civil rights issues, RoyaHegdahl... I think that is the big argument to be had in Brazil at the moment. And, though civil rights are tied to issues of poverty it isn't only poor nations that have problems with their civil rights.

  •  We created the Bannana Republics and they are the (5+ / 0-)

    model for what we've been moving toward for 40+ years.

    Two class system with the rich hiding behind walls, razor wire, and machine gun emplacements. Completely static social status. Education and justice available only to those that can afford it.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 01:51:35 PM PST

    •  The USA is rapidly moving towards the (4+ / 0-)

      two class system that we think we are superior to in other nations.

      Mexico now has nearly the same or more income equality as the USA. And the USA is trending worse, not better.

      All the policies of Republicans and "neo-liberal economics" are the policies of Banana Republics.

      What a Police State Looks Like: "On one side: soft human flesh, unprotected human skulls, cardboard signs, slogans they chant, armed with belief in 1st Amendment rights. On the other: helmets, body armor, guns, batons, chemical weapons." -- JanetRhodes

      by YucatanMan on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 02:54:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We didn't create Brazil. You give US too much (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RoyaHegdahl, rickeagle

      credit. It's been this way since its foundation.

      •  I believe it is understood we didn't literally (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RoyaHegdahl, rickeagle

        found those nations. Nor are we responsible for the genocide that enabled the theft of the natives' land & resources that became Brazil, that would be the Europeans (Portugal in the case of Brazil).

        However, it was America that installed and supported the "business friendly" governments throughout South America that resulted in these horrors.

        BTW, it is even worse than the diary indicates.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

        by Greyhound on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 03:31:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not even sure you can say that about (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Brazil. US did generally support 'business-friendly' governments in South America but I don't recall any cases where it intervened in Brazil to force its choice of the government. And it did work with more left-wing governments there as well (unlike in some other countries in the region).

          •  yes, yes you can say that about Brazil NT (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
          •  The coup of 1964 (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FG, rickeagle, RoyaHegdahl
            Operation Brother Sam

            Declassified transcripts of communications between Lincoln Gordon and the US government show that, predicting an all-out civil war, and with the opportunity to get rid of a left wing government in Brazil, Johnson authorized logistical materials to be in place and a US Navy fleet led by an aircraft carrier to support the coup against Goulart. These included ammunition, motor oil, gasoline, aviation gasoline and other materials to help in a potential civil war in US Navy tankers sailing from Aruba. About 110 tons of ammunition and CS gas were made ready in New Jersey for a potential airlift to Viracopos Airport in Campinas. Potential support was also made available in the form of an "aircraft carrier (USS Forrestal) and two guided missile destroyers (expected arrive in area by April 10), (and) four destroyers", which sailed to Brazil under the guise of a military exercise.

            CIA involvement

            In the telegraphs, Gordon also acknowledges US involvement in "covert support for pro-democracy street rallies…and encouragement [of] democratic and anti-communist sentiment in Congress, armed forces, friendly labor and student groups, church, and business" and that he "may be requesting modest supplementary funds for other covert action programs in the near future.". The actual operational files of the CIA remain classified, preventing historians from accurately gauging the CIA's direct involvement in the coup

            (summary from wikipedia)

            Article 196. Health care is the right of everyone and the obligation of the State, guaranteed through social and economic policies that provide... universal and equitable access to programs and services for its promotion, protection, and recuperation.

            by SLKRR on Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 01:58:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I would encourage you to publish this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rickeagle, RoyaHegdahl

    more widely if you can - perhaps as an opinion piece in a newspaper, send a copy to Amnesty International or to progressive magazines and/or blogs such as Mother Jones.   Perhaps your school newspaper, a church newsletter, etc.

    It is well written and compelling so it's definitely worth the effort to have it read by more people.

    Thanks for educating us on this!

  •  I think it is wonderful of you to have experiences (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    with people from other countries and to be able to write about them in such a clear and convincing way.

    I don't think the US education system does much to inform students about the wide variety of justice systems in the world, nor of conditions in other countries.

    In most all countries, the private ownership of weapons is restricted, including going so far as nearly prohibited or entirely prohibited.  The USA is the wide-open wild west in this regard with guns widely available to nearly anyone (just go to a gun show).  That is not the case in most of the rest of the world.

    In many other countries, an open trial is not the procedure.  

    In Napoleonic systems, for one broad example, it is common for the police to prefer charges.  It is then up to the accused to prove their innocence.  Rather than open court and common law, the law is prescribed in huge books of rules and regulations and procedures to be followed.

    In these systems, rather than testimony, witnesses and cross-examination in open court, everything is done via paper filings regarding the rules under which the accused may or may not be guilty.  The judge's duty is to examine the various paper filings, reading them in private, and to later rule on what he believes should be done.

    Remember: Guilty unless you can prove your innocence. That is the rule in many countries of the world.

    Why were the police looking for this guy in the first place? Why did he have a weapon in his home, when the law makes possession illegal?  Why did the police show up and start shooting at him?  I only ask because there seems to be something missing in the original accusation.

    No, I do not believe the police are always right.  In fact, the police in many areas of the world are somewhat to very corrupt. Even so, the police don't often chase someone down for zero reason, even if it is a corrupt reason.

    Finally, anyone who thinks of traveling elsewhere in the world, outside of Europe and a few other places (Australia, etc), realize that you cannot expect the same justice system as exists in the USA.

    What a Police State Looks Like: "On one side: soft human flesh, unprotected human skulls, cardboard signs, slogans they chant, armed with belief in 1st Amendment rights. On the other: helmets, body armor, guns, batons, chemical weapons." -- JanetRhodes

    by YucatanMan on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 03:05:52 PM PST

  •  "I'm really meant to change the world" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rickeagle, RoyaHegdahl, Mathazar

    I looked you up online, because I kinda felt like you write a little too well beyond the age of 17. I'm not trying to play creepy old guy, but I'm cynical by nature and just don't automatically accept everything I see-actually on the Net, the default is the opposite.

    Now, I have mixed feelings about the social networking thing, because I'm really big on privacy, but people communicate and interact with each other a lot differently than when I was 17.

    On the other hand, the networking opportunities that exist for people today are extraordinary, compared, to say, the late '70s, which is when I was 17. On the other hand, there's a lot of potential to use that information and exploit people. so please be careful.

    You are a very busy young go girl, and do change the world. The world can use a lot more people like you.


    Now, as for Rio and SP...two of the most dangerous cities in the world. If you liked City of God, you'll find Elite Squad instructive.

  •  NOLA is more violent than Rio (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RoyaHegdahl, rickeagle

    New Orleans has a homicide rate almost double of Rio (57 in 2009 for NOLA versus 33 for Rio). Rio has a homicide rate lower than at least five US cities, and more than 60 Brazilian cities.

  •  Another example (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RoyaHegdahl, SLKRR, jessical, rickeagle

    Jails are horrible places, and it sounds like your friend's brother got a very raw deal. At the same time, I have a contrasting story.

    The daughter of a British friend of mine, now in her late 30s, is bipolar and had a drug problem. At one point about 8 years ago, she was off drugs, but also had gone off her meds. She was convinced to act as a courier, picking up a suitcase in Brazil (yes, she figured she was smuggling drugs). She was arrested at the airport in Brazil, tried and sentenced to 5 years.

    However, in her case, the prosecutor's office supported her father's requests for release on grounds of mental illness (turned down by the courts). In prison, she got both medication and psychiatric supervision. It was no picnic, but she made it through and got back to England, has so far stuck to her treatment, gotten a job, an apartment and a reasonable life back.

    All this says is that not everything about the Brazilian legal system is a nightmare. And it probably made a difference that we are talking here about a women's prison and a foreign national.

  •  Great diary again, Roya! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RoyaHegdahl, rickeagle

    annnnnnd I am thinking that Brasil is a Catholic country and that the pointy hat squad is busy over here sputtering and fuming over birth control when they could be in Rio taking care of real issues..........


  •  Please Hold On To Your Capacity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rickeagle, RoyaHegdahl

    THere are so many ways that one can become tired of trying, or cynical about the possibilities, or wrapped up in various kinds of distractions that life brings.

    Somebody at 17 is right on the edge of blossoming into the great possibilities that life has to offer or instead, taking a very normal path into dissolution.  You see a lot of people,  you see this.  

    This diary is absolutely brilliant.  It is well written and organized, but it is wonderful because of its fearless heart and love and hope.  

    Man, don't ever lose that.  That is the one thing of value in the whole sorry mess we call this world.  Writing can be in fact very important.  It can indeed change the world, influencing leaders and whole cultures.  Not easily.  But the ambition to try and to learn how to become the absolute best there is, that is the important thing.

    It may take you four years and then graduate school in a university program to gain the full skill set.  Or, it may take you the next forty years.  

    This is really well written.  What you need to go with it is a greater awareness of the things that are necessary in order to really cope.  In gaining that knowledge,  you may decide that it is all too complicated.  This is why there are not more pieces of writing out there like this.  Simply, people couldn't decide what to focus on.  

    It is possible that instead of a writer, you will decide to take up the law, or politics, or some other line of pursuit.  There is no telling where your talents or interests will take you.  A whole wide world full of just about infinite possibilities awaits.

    The only thing that matters is that you not be talked out of being honestly concerned about injustice.  People who are not afraid to speak out, who are not too full of cynicism to try, are very much needed.  The 21st century will need a lot of people like you.  

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 11:53:12 PM PST

  •  hmmm... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am brazilian.

    As the post itself pointed, you can legally own firearms in Brazil. If you don`t follow the law, then you commit a crime.

    Very few people around here, be it in Sao Paulo, Rio or places that are even more violent own guns or go around armed, but the important thing here is that you can do it legally. Just follow the law.

    Regarding the justice system, confessions done in police precincts aren`t sufficient for a conviction. The whole thing has to be redone in front of a judge, if the defendant decides to fight the accusation. Further, most lawyers can keep the justice system tied in knots for years and years if their clients want to.

    Yes, there are criminals among the middle and upper class. The amazing thing is not that there are criminals among those classes, but that there are people still amazed by this fact.

    Yes, some cops are corrupt, but the system as a whole isn`t, and the system involves a lot of people: two different types of police, one sheriff to register the crime and lead the investigation, a well paid public prosecutor to bring the case to justice if he wants to, a well paid judge, the lawyer of the accused and three different appeal courts that can hear the case if the lawyer files an appeal.

    Yes, our prisons suck, despite all the evidence that a better jail system helps to reduces crime. The fact is that the brazilian population does not regard it as a priority, often quite the contrary (a lot of people want to see those people suffer, to be honest). So, it is not a political priority either.

    On the other hand, visitors aren`t searched in prison just so their jailers can get off. Far from it. It is done to try to avoid weapons, drugs and cell phones getting inside the prisons, through the visitors. What was not mentioned is that organized crime in Rio de Janeiro is controlled from inside the prisons. The jailed leaders order murders, thefts, kidnappings, control the drug traffic and sometimes order even terrorist waves from inside the jails. Hence we ended up with those searches.

    And last but not least, yeah Elite Troop I and II are pretty good movies.

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