Brazil's lowering age of criminal responsibility "catastrophic": minister

Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-7-1 16:16:15

Brazilian Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo said Tuesday that lowering the age of criminal responsibility would be catastrophic to the country's prison system.The House of Representatives started on Tuesday to vote a bill which proposes a change in the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 in the case of heinous crimes, such as murder, larceny or rape.

Defenders of the bill allege that the current system foresees too short incarceration time for teenagers who commit serious crimes, and may lead to the relative impunity of those offenders.

However, critics of the bill claim that jailing teenagers alongside adult criminals will instead lead to more recidivism -- Brazil is known for its very high recidivism rate -- and make rehabilitation harder.

Cardozo said the Brazilian prison system has a deficit of 220,000 spots, and an increase in the number of potential inmates would make the system more crowded than it already is.

"Some penitentiaries have an occupation rate of 160 percent of their capacity. In addition, we have 400,000 pending arrest warrants," he said.

Cardozo said reducing the age of criminal responsibility will not help curb violence perpetrated by teenagers, but will instead put them at more risks.

"Reducing the age of criminal responsibility will have the opposite effect of what the public expects. In jail, youngsters will be more easily recruited by organized crime gangs, to which he will be connected when he leaves prison. This will bring more insecurity in the future," he said.

Posted in: Americas

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