A Guardian Newspaper article on 3 March, 2022 showed the difficult and often brutal conditions of young offenders in Brazil’s overcrowded juvenile detention centres:
Under existing law, offenders aged 12 to 18 are supposed to be dealt with through community service or education, with a maximum penalty of up to three years at a detention centre for the most serious crimes. In reality, however, young people who commit minor infractions are often locked up in overcrowded facilities with scant opportunity for rehabilitation and education, or protection from mistreatment, claim campaigners.
According to Human Rights Watch, in 2014 about 22,000 young people in Brazil were housed at juvenile detention centres, which were designed to hold a maximum of 18,000. But overcrowding is just one aspect of a regime that inspections have found to be brutal, with youths locked up for hours in cell-like rooms with few opportunities for recreation – conditions that have triggered frequent riots.
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Free My Verse Project
Biorki, a successful Rap Artist from São Paulo State regularly visits juvenile detention centres to inspire them to take up writing and performing rap music as a form of self-expression.
A key member of our PULSO youth programme in Brazil, Biorki has performed at many of our youth events and also appeared on our discussion panels, presenting Christ in a contemporary way. It is impossible to overstate the effect he is having on the young people he encounters both inside and outside prisons.
Without such interventions, rehabilitation is almost impossible within the current penal system in Brazil.
“It is marvellous to see these young people previously without hope begin to grow in their self-esteem”, Biorki commented. But he does need our support, in prayer and in finance.
Here is Biorki’s report:
The return to activities in the juvenile detention centre in the State of Rio de Janeiro in 2020 took place on the 25th of February. The planned date was 15th January, but we were delayed due to the change of management in J.L.A. (the unit where we carry out the project).
We started with a group of 10 teenagers and now we’re going into our third class, with 10 adolescents in each class.
In the first 3 weeks, we started the first stage of the project, which is a reading incentive to improve the writing skills that will be needed in the workshops.
Each member of the group started reading a book, despite the fact that the J.L.A. does not offer a large selection of books in line with the teenagers’ language and context.
After some exercises in writing, rhyming and verses, we started discussion on the theme chosen by adolescents (feelings). The discussion and reflection on the topic addressed is always very important, because this is where the change in the way of thinking and seeing their story will happen. The workshops build on this.
We are now entering the next week going into the song writing process, including the two new classes.
Next week, we are also organising an event at the unit, with some names from the Rio rap scene. We are currently making the contacts and raising the funds to be able to take a high impact group of artists to talk and perform live to the teenagers.
Hear Biorki now – Cristo Sarau on YOUTUBE