Friday, April 23, 2010

An Open Regime to the Exterior

Our Portuguese correspondent Afonso Henriques has sent his translation of a news broadcast concerning a recent relaxation of Portugal’s penal practices. The new privileges given to inmates apply even to hardened and violent offenders. Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for subtitling the video for us:

A full transcript of the above video is at the bottom of this post.

Afonso adds these comments:

This is how fun politics are in Portugal! The Socialists of course are in power, and the old-style Communists with the new wave of Anarchists together got almost one fifth of the vote.

I found it funny that Takuan Seiyo recently mentioned Portugal in the Brussels Journal, saying, “All you had to know about the future of Portugal’s economy you could have predicted when its Maoist-Trotskyist Block [the left-wing anarchists, with a very bourgeois spirit let me add — AH] won 10% of the vote in 2009.” I think that all one needs to know about Portugal is that those who engendered the law described in the news report were in the oh-so-respectable Socialist Party, who had almost 40% of the votes.
- - - - - - - - -
The not-so-Socialist Party: The Social Democratic Party finally has a new leader now, who may make it to the top in 2012 or later. Passos Coelho’s main deed is having been the greatest leader of the YSD (the “Youth” of the Social Democratic Party) but to me — and I’m virtually alone thinking this — all you need to know about that man, Pedro Passos Coelho, is what I found in this far right Portuguese blog, The Fire of the Will:

The true profession of Passos Coelho is “Why-ism”. “Why-ism” is an activity that democracy has been disseminating through the years. The “Why” is generally an individual who spends all his youth (youth that, in the case of these specimens, usually extends well into their thirties, a time when others are already men) in a party, at the service of the party, and getting served by the party: he works for the party and benefits personally and professionally from the party more than its merits would permit. Passos Coelho graduated in economics after many trials in a private faculty [usually lower quality — AH] when he was thirty-six years old (it makes sense, for the Why, unlike for the average man, the age of 36 usually marks the end of youth…) and still, without any justifiable curriculum vitae, he was able to get in “half a dozen” years being placed by the friends of the party to teach in another private institution and in the highest ranks of the companies of a group (Fomentinvest) dominated by their godfathers of the Social Democratic Party. No one with the curriculum vitae of this Passos Coelho would have been launched in such a professional trajectory if he had not been an important “Why”.

Transcript of the news video:

00:01.00 Nightly News with Bento Rodrigues.
00:08.00 Welcome to the Nightly News.
00:10.00 The new law of penal execution starts being implemented on Monday
00:13.00 and is already provoking controversy.
00:16.00 Any prisoner will be able to get out of jail during the day in order to work
00:20.00 as long as he has fulfilled a fourth of his sentence and some additional requirements.
00:25.00 This regally privilege applies also to the most dangerous prisoners sentenced for homicide.
00:32.00 Leonor Cipriano, sentenced to 16 years for killing her daughter
00:37.00 and hiding the body has already fulfilled more than one fourth of her sentence.
00:41.00 Marcos Fernandes, condemned to 25 years for shooting and killing two policemen
00:46.00 will reach one fourth of his sentence during the first trimester of 2011.
00:50.00 Leonardo Moreira, also doing 25 years for his 77 crimes of kidnapping,
00:56.00 rape, and sexual abuse of tens of children has already surpassed one fourth of his sentence.
01:02.00 These are three perpetrators of violent crimes that in the light of the new code of penal sentences
01:08.00 can have one foot in the “open regime” with access to the exterior,
01:12.00 that is, working or studying beyond the walls of jail during the day and returning to jail only to sleep.
01:19.00 But no prisoner can have that liberty without having one “tentative exit” first without incidents.
01:26.00 (Rui Sá Gomes, Director of the Prison Services): He was granted one prior
01:30.00 “jurisdictional exit”, and he complied religiously with all the conditions of that “exit” that the judge established…
01:35.00 On the other hand, it is to be expected that he does not disturb the victim…
01:39.00 It is to be expected that there are various conditions attached to the concession of that regime …
01:44.00 that he does not disturb the peace and social order.
01:49.00 And that it is predictable that he is not going to escape the fulfillment of his sentence.
01:52.00 With this new law it is now the responsibility of the Director of the Prison Services — and not the responsibility of a Judge —
01:58.00 to decide if a prisoner does or does not have access to the “open regime to the exterior”
02:03.00 (António Ventinhas, Union of the Judges of the Public Ministry): The General Director
02:05.00 of the Prison Services is politically appointed
02:08.00 and the judicial decisions are made by a judge who has no party affiliation, a career judge,
02:16.00 and there could be a complete “de-virtuation” of the decisions made by the courts.
02:20.00 (José Mendes, Union of the PSP, Public Security Police): We understand
02:23.00 that this decision should be made by a judicial entity,
02:25.00 namely the Court of Instruction of Penalties.
02:28.00 It is also worrisome enough that this regime is to be applied to all the crimes of blood.
02:34.00 I think that it does not make any sense. And another thing that is really worrying
02:40.00 is the control that is applied in the end, when those individuals move to the exterior, how is one such individual controlled…
02:45.00 The CDS-PP (the third largest party, and the party further to the right to have any representation, they got 10% in the last elections and the leader proclaimed that his goal is to create “the first non Socialist big Portuguese party”) which voted against the “Code of Execution of Sentences”,
02:49.00 presented today a proposal of alteration to the document.
02:53.00 They propose that the “open regime” be conceded only by a judge and to prisoners who have fulfilled three-fourths of their sentences, in the case of severe crimes.
03:01.00 (Nuno Magalhães, CDS-PP): This code is an outrage to the victims,
03:05.00 an offense to the security forces
03:09.00 and an insult to justice. It is an indignity to society.
03:14.00 They are the 200 prisoners who currently enjoy the “open regime to the exterior”.


Zenster said...

It started out so well:

"The new law of penal execution starts being implemented on Monday ..."

One could only hope that serial murderers and rapists were being led to the wall. Instead, we find out that they will be led out of doors and allowed to treat the penitentiary like some sort of low-budget dormitory. All the while displacing employment opportunities for law-abiding citizens in the outside world as well.

Won't someone please think of the underemployed prison guards? I can only suppose these junior social engineers think that taxes paid by the working convicts will somehow fund benefits for the unemployed.

But let's all look for the silver lining in this dark cloud, shall we? It appears as though there will be much earlier and better chances for victims or surviving family members to track down these violent criminal scumbags and "repay" them.

Godffrey said...

Europeans are ridiculous. You guys realize that there is such a thing as a middle ground between oppressive fascism and limp wristed liberalism? Apparently you don't. But who am I to criticize? It's only a matter of time until this kind of nonsense reaches America.

sdf said...

I kind of understand why it is necessary to change our prison systems. Here in Finland state pays 5000 €/month for one customer in our hotelrooms of prison. This is not a way to go, though.

I think, that perhaps we could create some kind of bigbrother-solution with technology to prisoners. That they could continue working (and earn they livings) throughout prisontime. Prise of our prisons is unbearable when immigration flow is growing.

Anonymous said...

sdf, actually that's what I'd do. In my country we have people committing crime so that they go to jail and not work(I'm not even joking). People in jail should earn their keep.

By the way, I don't see why murderers, rapists(real ones, not the feminist created ones), kidnappers and so on aren't executed.

Afonso Henriques said...

Okay, I'm here now so, if you have any question, just ask!

Yes Zenster, I agree with you, and I also didn't understand why they would be aloud out to compete for work. I mean, everybody's crying that we have almost 10% of unemployement, the highest vallue since this democratic age, since 1974.
Still, I doubt that unemployment was greater during the 60s and 70s... but let's nor compare dictatorial and democratic times! (the media, at least, will not)

"there will be much earlier and better chances for victims or surviving family members to track down these violent criminal scumbags and "repay" them."

Even the media is stressing this option. The justice system here is awfull.


Some people in jail should be condemned to "forced labour", I think.


Besides, the maximum prison sentence here is 25 years. And there's one interesting thing, if you abuse 50 children it constitutes one "continued crime" and it will only be considered one crime, instead of 50 crimes.

I am against the death penalty as long as we are Civilised enough to not enforce it. In Europe, we're becoming not Civilised enough to despise death penalty.

Zenster said...

Afonso Henriques: I am against the death penalty as long as we are Civilised enough to not enforce it. In Europe, we're becoming not Civilised enough to despise death penalty.

Some crimes, like serial murder and torture (e.g., "BTK" criminal Dennis Rader , are so heinous whereby even the remote possibility of escape and recomission of such crimes represents too great of a threat to society.

Please pause to consider how Europe's "becoming not Civilised enough" may be a direct result of its refusal to permanently incarcerate or simply eliminate a huge number of criminal threats.

A secondary and equally damaging effect is that of psychologically minimizing the objectionable nature of criminal activity by de-emphasizing the need for harsh penalties.

It appears that the criminal mind does not process fear in the same way as normal people. This inability to perceive and properly respect inappropriate situational outcomes explains a lot about career criminals.

Europe's willingness to allow such people easy readmission to society represents a serious degradation of the quality of life for its law abiding citizens.

Afonso Henriques said...

"Please pause to consider how Europe's "becoming not Civilised enough" may be a direct result of its refusal to permanently incarcerate or simply eliminate a huge number of criminal threats."

It may well be Zenster. I am aware that my disdain for the death penalty is not rational.
But still... it just do not feel right... Without a war, the State or the Society seem to be a way to strong force to be directed with all its power to smash the perpetrators of a hideous crimes.
Maybe it is this disproportion of power that makes me not suppoting it. But I am aware my objectional is not rational.
And also, it's just so barbarious... it's "alien". We are supposed to forgive and all that trash :)