Brazil’s New Program: Redemption Through Reading

Select people behind bars in Brazil have gained a new opportunity to reduce their sentence: reading.

One book offers four days off of one’s sentence, with the maximum of reading 12 books per year.

Readers have the choice of the following to read:

  • literature
  • philosophy
  • science
  • classics (Reading Offers…)

After completing the work, one must:

make correct use of paragraphs, be free of corrections, use margins and legible joined-up writing. (Reading Offers…)

Insight-Organized Crime and the Christian Science Monitor show their hesitation when reporting on this new program.

The Christian Science Monitor is worried about people actually finishing books:

And as we learned in fifth grade, writing a book report is no guarantee that one has really finished a book. How do we ensure that the prisoners are really doing the reading thoroughly and completely?

Insight-Organized Crime is worried about the black market and this program:

In addition, the incentive could create a black market for prisoners writing book reports for others in order to pass the review panel. Inmates who have not been selected for the program may be co-erced into producing reviews for those who have, meaning a prisoner may significantly reduce their sentence without actually having participated. Strict policing of the program will need to be carried out to ensure it attains the desired results.

Geez Louise! Can’t new programs give it the good ole try without  naysayers ruining the excitement of a new program?

EDIT / UPDATE: This program is part of many – check out my follow-up post: Redemption Through Reading’s Sibling Program.


Fox, Edward. Brazil Introduces Reading Program For Prisoners To Reduce Sentences. Insight-Organized Crime. 27 June 2012.

Haq, Husna. In Brazil’s Prisons, Inmates Shorten Sentences By Reading. Christian Science Monitor. 26 June 2012.

Reading Offers Brazilian Prisoners Quicker Escape. Reuters. 25 June 2012.


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