Project name
Strengthening networks to reduce mass incarceration and pre-trial detention.

Brief description of the project and its objectives
Project aims to address some of the main challenges and causes of the high rates of preventive detention in the country and in Rio de Janeiro in particular. Brazil has more than 770,000 people deprived of their liberty, of which around 40% are provisionally imprisoned.

In Rio de Janeiro, around 50,000 people are currently imprisoned, with pretrial detention rates similar to national ones. It is important to highlight the bias of the Brazilian criminal justice system, as the majority of prisoners, and those in pre-trial detention, are young black men with very low incomes and low levels of education.

This scenario is the result of some elements of Brazilian society and public policies: a generalized punitive culture that mixes justice and revenge and that sees prison as the main instrument to reduce crime and provide justice; public speeches by officials that promote fear; the existing structural racism; public security policies that are not focused on intelligence and investigation, but on confrontation and militarization; the lack of implementation of existing restorative justice instruments and alternative sanctions to deprivation of liberty.

With the objectives of reducing preventive detention and curbing torture, a new instrument was introduced into the Brazilian criminal justice system in 2015 by the National Council of Justice: the so-called “custody hearings”. This instrument establishes that all detainees in flagrante delicto must be brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest. Custody hearings are a crucial tool for reducing pre-trial detention, but their implementation is facing a number of challenges.

– Improved implementation of custody hearings in Rio de Janeiro, with a consequent reduction in pre-trial detention;
– Sensitization of criminal justice system operators on the negative impacts of pre-trial detention and on existing tools and structures to reduce incarceration and pre-trial detention in particular;
– Promote a more qualified public debate around the criminal justice system;
– Contribute to greater mobilization of different stakeholders (social movements, NGOs, academic researchers, people who have been arrested and their families) working to reduce pretrial detention and mass incarceration.