Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Biking to Reduce Prison Sentence

Today I came across this interesting article on CNN about Brazilian prisons that have instituted inventive ways for prisoners to reduce their sentences. One of these includes a reading program, where inmates can shave 4 days off of their sentence for every book they read off of an approved list following the completion of a book report (up to 48 days per year). The hope is that this program will help educate a largely illiterate and/or under-educated population so, upon release, they will be more suited to enter the workplace.

The second, and more interesting, program has inmates pedaling stationary bicycles attached to a bank of batteries. As the inmates pedal, the batteries are charged and power street lights in the nearby town...and their sentence is reduced. Apparently, pedaling for 16 hours will reduce your sentence by one day with no yearly limit.
(Photo: Santa Rite do Sapucai Prison, 2012)

It's an interesting concept. Expanding green energy opportunities, providing exercise and recreation for inmates, and offering a relatively large incentive of early freedom. I can truthfully say that I am confused about my reactions to this project. I believe it justice for what people have done. While I may not always agree with the system, I support it and know every four years I can campaign and vote to change the system. If someone is found guilty and sentenced to twenty years, I believe they should serve 20 years, not a day more or less (unless bad behavior...I don't believe it getting out on good behavior. It's prison, not time-out). Reading is great and so is green renewable energy...but is it really worth letting convicted criminals out of jail early? Why not use it as an incentive to watch a movie or gain an extra hour a day of recreation time...something that keeps the criminals in prison but still educates them and continues with the green energy initiative.

Have you seen similar stories somewhere? Email me with them, as well as your thoughts and ideas.

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