|Brazil Associations for Prisoners: Every person is greater than his mistakes|
|Tuesday, 21 February 2012 15:48|
On Friday, February 10, a team of AVSI officers made a visit to Brazil partner, the Santa Luzia Association for Protection and Assistance of Prisoners (APAC - Associação de Proteçao e Assistência aos condenados) in Belo Horizonte. Ezio Castelli, Vice President of AVSI, Maria Teresa Gatti, Director of Knowledge Management and George Capitanio, Regional Officer for projects in Brazil, were among those who visited the site.
The AVSI team underlined their respect for the work done by the Santa Luzia APAC, one of 29 regional associations with whom AVSI Brazil partners in its Alem dos Muros (“Beyond the prison walls”) project. Castelli commented, “For us, it is important to see in person how the movement of these associations is having a huge impact in Brazil and worldwide on the topic of prisons.”
Santa Luzia is an example of the model being spread among APACs: structures which are integrated parts of the Brazilian prison system, but operate parallel to and not directly under the individual prisons. These facilities are run by civilians and volunteers, not by the government prison police, and they host qualifying prisoners considered to be on the road to recovery and reintegration, giving them the possibility to participate in training, educational and community activities and to begin to work. These individuals start on a real path of renewal, in which they are looked at for the first time with a novel, more human gaze.
This promotion of human dignity among prisoners carrying out their sentences is the crux of the entire Alem dos Muros project implemented by AVSI in partnership with the Brazilian organization Instituto Minas Pela Paz, the Minas Gerais Department of Justice, the Fraternidade Brasileira de Assistência aos Condenados, and with funding from the European Union, with the goal of strengthening the APACs. From an initial 150 prisoners living in the structures at the beginning of the current project, now there are between 1,500-2,000 and the number continues to grow.
Judge Joaquim Alves de Andrade spoke during the Feb.10 visit about the importance of the partnership with AVSI:
“AVSI is working with the APACs, providing training of personnel through courses and seminars. Late last year, AVSI helped to create a course in which each participant proposed a business plan according to the specific circumstances in which he or she works. This year, in April, a course will be offered for administrators of the Associations on social indicators.”
Also present at the visit were: representatives from the AVSI office in Minas Gerais, including Gianfranco Commodaro and Jacobo Sabatiello, the project manager of the Institute Minas Pela Paz (IMPP) Eneas Melo, and the vice president of the APAC of Santa Luzia, Lauriene Abritta Ayres de Queiroz.