HomeBRAZILDEPUTIES APPROVE BILL THAT TOUGHENS THE PENALTIES FOR CELL PHONE USE IN...

DEPUTIES APPROVE BILL THAT TOUGHENS THE PENALTIES FOR CELL PHONE USE IN PRISONS

The Chamber of Deputies approved on Wednesday (23/11) a bill that toughens the penalties for cell phone use inside prisons. As the text has been changed, it will return to the Senate.

The proposal provides for a prison sentence of two to four years for anyone who, under a closed sentence, uses, possesses or provides a cell phone or similar device, such as a radio. Currently, the Penal Code only provides for detention of three months to one year for those who “enter, promote, intermediate, assist or facilitate the entry of a mobile telephone, radio or similar device, without legal authorization, in a prison establishment”. The text determines that the punishment applies to the director of the penitentiary or the public agent who does not prohibit the prisoner’s access to the telephone set.

The crime of entering, promoting, intermediating, assisting or facilitating the entry of a cell phone into the penitentiary will be punishable by imprisonment from four to six years. The proposal also amends the General Telecommunications Law to require telecommunications service providers to provide unrestricted access to information and technologies so that prison officials can prevent radio communication.

Our Analysis:

Whenever a new rule is applied to tighten the prison system, there is a strong wave of reprisals by organized crime groups. The cell phone is an important tool for criminals in every prison across the country. Despite being prohibited, their use and possession is extremely widespread, including criminals openly using them to apply scams, coordinate crimes and manage their criminal organizations. The real hardening of the penalty for possession of a cell phone can generate a wave of actions. However, one must consider the fact that many laws have their application distorted or are simply ignored in practice. Often, this occurs as a result of corrupt public officials or even informal agreements between authorities and criminals who seek a “middle ground” to avoid an escalation in violence.

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