New Humanity Movement

Social Ethics

prisonAn overcrowded women’s prison. The local community’s opinion on the “City Project” and actions to be taken in respect to prisoners’ rights, while working with government institutions and achieving concrete results.

From Londrina (Brasile) - by Paolo Balduzzi

Londrina, in the State of Paranà in Brazil, is the third largest city by population standards in the south of Brazil. A city formed by Italian, German, Portuguese and Japanese descendants, its name is particularly similar to the English city of London; it was the first settlement that was started from the work of an English Cotton Company. In the City there is a women's prison for 36 people, but recently it has been terribly overcrowded with about 120 detainees

Here too, in the heart of Brazil, is a community committed to live according to an ideal, a particular way of thinking and acting - a fraternity - that slowly but surely helps change the face of the city. It is in this context that it was clear for one of them: this way of life is really for all, even for prison detainees. A magazine, New City is sponsoring this ideal through articles that are truly up-to-date and would ideally fit this purpose.

The idea was to give a copy of the magazine to each prisoner through subsidised subscriptions from willing sponsors. The Prison Managers welcomed the project and we were encouraged to deliver the magazines personally.

In the course of these visits, by sharing in their needs and demands, a relationship of trust with the prisoners was created: for example, the State does not provide them with personal hygiene products.  As concrete acts of fraternity, we prepared a kit with products such as toothpaste, sanitary napkins, soap; but also biscuits, pens and notebooks to send with the magazine. Other partnerships were formed like one with a factory that donated lollies and sweets for them. Thanks to these new opportunities prisoners who can read have also learned by teaching their companions through the magazine.

The detainees began to express how happy they are with our visits and showing us their affection. They say they felt loved even by God and wanted to start a new life different from what they had lived up to that point.

With many committed people around the world involved with “City Project" we realise that all our work with the prisoners are an integral part of the project. We tried to get each one in our community involved, especially the government institutions because our work must contribute to improve the rights of the prisoners.

For this reason we organised a public hearing with the municipal board calling for the presence of a doctor within the prison structure, since it was difficult to make someone come from the outside when needed. Our proposal was accepted and forwarded to the Secretary of the Department of Health, and we are looking for the best solution.

Furthermore, thanks to our interest, we are able to bring to the attention of the institutions other priorities: for example, in addition to the recruitment of doctors and starting a health  program, we would like to find ways to improve the prisoner’s skill and character so that they may fit into society more easily when discharged.

Also the problem of overcrowding was solved: 40 prisoners were transferred to an old disused police station while waiting for the construction of a new prison.

Despite the difficulties that we still encounter, after three years of hard work we can confirm the success of the “City Project”, and our happiness at seeing some people who have lost their freedom are now fighting to take control of their lives and making a valuable contribution to society as a whole.
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