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President Jair Bolsonaro has been peddling the myth that only older people are at risk from Covid-19. At the same time, he has repeatedly dismissed their needs. His  disinformation and callous remarks about the country’s 28 million people over 60…
A Zapotec woman washes her hands after learning from a local radio program about hand-washing and social distancing to avoid COVID-19, in Oaxaca state, Mexico, March 31, 2020.
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When a child makes the mistake of breaking a law, the state needs to be especially careful in meting out punishment – out of sheer humanity, and because the chances of rehabilitation are so much higher in someone so young. And indeed…
Children at a “socio-educational” unit in the state of Ceará in October 2016.
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The killing of 33 inmates in the Brazilian state of Roraima is another sign that the country's prisons are disgracefully out of control. Many of the bodies were decapitated, a practice widely used by gangs to terrorize their enemies. …
A relative of a prisoner holds a local newspaper, which shows a headline about a deadly prison riot, in front of Anisio Jobim prison in Manaus, Brazil, on January 3, 2017.
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Ten years ago this week, Brazil passed a law intended to distinguish dangerous drug traffickers from simple drug users. By replacing jail sentences for users of any illegal drug with penalties such as community service, and increasing penalties for drug…
Makeshift “barracos,” or cubicles, inside Pavilion 7 at Presídio Juiz Antônio Luiz L. de Barros (PJALLB), in Recife.
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Whenever a criminal appeal lands on Judge Kenarik Boujikian´s desk in her São Paulo office, she always checks a basic fact: whether the case involves a detainee who has already finished their sentence but is still incarcerated. In the last year, she has…
Makeshift “barracos,” or cubicles, inside Pavilion 7 at Presídio Juiz Antônio Luiz L. de Barros (PJALLB), in Recife.
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Legalizing the possession of drugs for personal use would probably help alleviate the country’s chronic prison overcrowding and allow a fresh approach to the problems of drug dependence

For the past decade, Mexico has pursued a “war on drugs” with catastrophic consequences — drug-related violence has taken the lives of tens of thousands of people. Last month, the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled that prohibiting the personal use of…
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The United States is providing early release this weekend for 6,000 inmates who have been serving federal sentences for non-violent drug crimes -- the biggest one-time release of inmates in US history. It's a sign of a tectonic shift occurring in the…
U.S. President Barack Obama and Brazil President Dilma Rousseff depart a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on June 30, 2015.
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Pernambuco’s prisons have become a haven of private enterprise. Imagine, if you can, what it is like to be imprisoned there. For 2,000 reais (USD530), you could buy a place to sleep, a narrow wooden cubicle where you can throw a mattress and prop a fan.…
Makeshift “barracos,” or cubicles, inside Pavilion 7 at Presídio Juiz Antônio Luiz L. de Barros (PJALLB), in Recife.
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Luiz is one of the adolescents who would be tried as an adult in Brazil if its Congress approves a Constitutional amendment to lower the age of criminal majority. He is 17 and was living on the streets of a city near São Paulo in January when he was…
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'We kept climbing higher and higher as the boat was sinking,'' Arif B. told me, describing how he spent three nights clinging to a sinking boat as he tried to reach Australia. Many of his fellow passengers died, he said.   Arif was only 15 when he fled…