Society

Pretrial prisoners: Brazil’s forgotten inmates

Inmates are seen in Eunapolis (BA) city police station cell.
Inmates are seen in Eunapolis (BA) city police station cell. Photo: Joa Souza/Shutterstock

A significant slice of the political squabbling in Brazil this year surrounds a concept known in legalese as “imprisonment in the second instance.” Put simply, it concerns the stage of criminal proceedings at which defendants may begin to serve their jail sentences. 

The Brazilian Constitution has an entrenched clause which states that “no one shall be considered guilty before the issuing of a final and unappealable penal sentence.” This means that for a prison sentence to be carried out, defendants should first, in theory, exhaust all their available appeals routes. In practice, this is often not the case.

Brazil’s conviction...

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