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In Boston, TSE president talks about Brazilian prison system

On April 8, the president of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) Justice Gilmar Mendes participated, at Harvard University, in the panel on the Brazilian prison system. The debate took place at the Brazil Conference, which began on April 7 and was attended by several Brazilian authorities and personalities. In his presentation, Justice Mendes minister pointed to the lack of management as one of the main reasons for the crisis in Brazil's penitentiary system.

In order to face the situation, Gilmar Mendes emphasized the importance of articulation among the various organs responsible for public security, especially the Judiciary, the Public Prosecutor's Office, ombudsmen, state governments and the federal government. "We have to pay attention to this question. The problem is not necessarily lack of resources. The big problem here is lack of management. And there are no innocents in this game. We all have responsibilities”, he said.

The president of the TSE mentioned serious security problems in several states. He recalled that, on the eve of the first round of the 2016 elections, the TSE and the Ministry of Defense were in the city of São Luís (MA) to closely check the measures that were being adopted to ensure law and order during the municipal election. Bandits had promoted a wave of attacks in the city, burning buses and schools.

Gilmar Mendes also referred to the prison situation in Amazonas. According to data from the State Department of Penitentiary Administration (SEAP), seven inmates had been recently murdered in the Puraquequara Prison Unit (UPP) in Manaus. He also talked about the "picture of chaos, collapse" in the state of Rio de Janeiro, regarding drug trafficking, militias and the possibility of politica interference of organized crime.

Justice Mendes stressed that, however, it is possible to ease the crisis in the prison system, especially with regard to management problems. According to him, there are resources, conditions and qualified personnel to deal with the situation. "I believe that the prison system has to be treated as one of the serious issues in the field of public security. It is necessary to think of a structure similar to the Single Health System (SUS) for public security, facilitating integration and coordination. I am absolutely convinced that it is a national theme ", he added.

The other panelists  were Rafael Custódio, of the Conectas Human Rights, and Rafael Barbosa, general- defender of the state of Amazonas.