Since last month, the National Penitentiary Department (Depen), through Ordinance No. 14, authorized the gradual return of face-to-face visits to people deprived of liberty in custody in federal penitentiaries.
In Minas Gerais, the resumption of visits to 194 prisons and penitentiaries have been carried out since last year, according to Depen-MG, following the protocols required by Minas Consciente.
At this time, all macroregions are classified as a green wave except the Southern Triangle, which is in the yellow wave for covid-19. Every 30 days, a family member can carry out a face-to-face visit, which lasts three hours.
In the yellow wave, the duration of the visit is reduced to 20 minutes. The measure is already a relief for many families who spent months during the pandemic without being able to see their children, partners, brothers, husbands who are in state custody in the prison system.
“With the inmates vaccinated, visits should be allowed, demanding that whoever is there too”
Roberta Farias, from the El Shaday Association for the Support of the Rehabilitated and Family, reports that at the beginning it was very complicated for the families, due to the difficulty in getting news, which was even a reason for several demonstrations in the Administrative City and in front of the prisons.
“But today, with everything that has been happening, with the release of the stadium, the release of bars, the visit has not returned as it should have. And to make the visit, it has to be scheduled and few people can do it because of the dates that are not on weekends”, he comments.
Roberta explains that before the pandemic, visits were weekly and lasted from 8am to 5pm. Scheduling for face-to-face visits, according to her, is one of the problems that families have been facing. “The person tries all day and the phone is only busy”, he says.
42,821 prisoners were vaccinated from 72 thousand people
Roberta reports that in Francisco Sá’s penitentiary, after a letter sent to the prosecutor’s office and a hunger strike carried out by the prisoners, 16 people per pavilion were allowed to visit on weekends.
“Even so, there are very few people. It’s a very big neglect. And with the prisoners vaccinated, I think the protocol should be this: to allow the visits, demanding that whoever enters is vaccinated too”, he assesses.
According to the State Secretariat for Justice and Public Security (Sejusp), so far, 42,821 prisoners have been vaccinated against covid-19 with at least the first dose. The prison population in Minas Gerais is 72 thousand people.
defense of human rights
Although the suspension of visits was necessary to contain the pandemic, the absence of families and the difficulties imposed in face-to-face monitoring are seen with apprehension by the families. Since last year, there have been many transfers of prisoners between units, which ends up making travel more expensive and further increasing the difficulties of family members.
According to Maria de Lourdes de Oliveira, one of the coordinators of the Pastoral Carcerária, the reality of the prison system is worrying, not only because of the overcrowding of the units, but also because of the way in which prisoners are treated by “bad professionals”.
The visits – both by family members and by organizations that provide religious assistance –, according to Maria de Lourdes, are a tool for social control to prevent cruel and degrading treatment, torture and ill-treatment of people deprived of their freedom.
She says that many prisoners, during the pandemic, started to send letters to the Pastoral Carcerária detaining the reality from within the prison units. “Many asked for help. And during this period we didn’t stay still, there were movements in general. In the state, the family members, who are organized, carried out many activities, complaints and demonstrations”, he says.
In the same sense, Roberta, from the El Shaday Association, reports that the context of interruption of visits leaves people deprived of freedom at the mercy of the prison system.
“A lawyer came to me recently to say that he arrived at the unit and the client was all hurt because he was beaten a lot”, he points out. She also reports that she received reports that in a prison unit, meals were being served at the wrong times and prisoners went a long time without eating. “I received an audio from a detainee’s family member asking for help,” he says.
Visit is a right
Provided for in article 41 of the Penal Execution Law, the person deprived of liberty is entitled to visit by a spouse, partner, relatives and friends on certain days.
Valdênia Geralda de Carvalho, professor at the Dom Helder Câmara Superior School and adviser to the State Council for the Defense of Human Rights (Conedh), says that guaranteeing the right to visit and family approximation is fundamental and determinant to strengthen family ties and ties. custodian and re-educated.
“The presence of the family in the prison system has the power to mitigate and minimize the suffering of the re-educated person and greatly contributes to the process of re-socialization and social reintegration. The visit re-establishes the bond of belonging, the spirit of mutual help, in addition to being psychological, emotional support and calming hearts and minds”, he emphasizes.
The lawyer also comments that the consequences of isolation were “harmful”, as it caused anxiety, sadness, indignation and revolt in people deprived of freedom and in their families. And that the absence of a face-to-face visit is a factor of illness and potentialization of preexisting diseases.
“The removal of the face-to-face visitation system and the adoption of virtual visits is extremely impersonal and cold. Nothing compares to human warmth and personal contact”, he says.
In note, to Brazil de Facto MG, Sejusp and Depen-MG state that they “recognize visitation as a right, as well as its importance to ensure the strengthening of bonds between those in custody and their families.
The decision on the flexibility and complete return of visits, however, does not depend exclusively on Depen-MG. This measure is carried out in accordance with negotiations between the department and the bodies of Health, the Judiciary and the State Government”. Still, he emphasizes that “Depen-MG is already in negotiations with other institutions to expedite the total return of visits throughout the state”.
The note also explains that the movement of prisoners between prison units “is part of the prison system’s routine. New entries and exits are registered daily in the units, according to permits received and according to the internal management of vacancies at Depen-MG, always prioritizing the units closest to the inmates’ residence”.
Regarding the contact of families with people deprived of liberty, the note reminds that there are three possible ways: through letters, phone calls or videoconferences in units where this technology is available. This modality, according to Sejusp, will continue to happen even with the resumption of visits.
Source: BoF Minas Gerais
Edition: Elis Almeida