Newsbrief: Rio de Janeiro Jails Stuffed With Drug Offenders 9/26/03

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Data released last week by by prison health authorities in Rio de Janeiro shows that 80% of 18-to-30-year-old in Rio's prisons are doing time for drug trafficking offenses. The figure is 60% for women. The study by the state Prison Administration Secretariat's Health Superintendency profiled some 1,624 male prisoners at Ary Franco Prison and 138 female prisoners at the state's Nelson Hungria Prison.

Prison Health Superintendent Edison José Biondi told O Estado de Sao Paolo that most prisoners are drug users and that many continue to use while in prison. According to Biondi, 78% of men and 72% of women prisoners used marijuana prior to arrest, and nearly half of the men and about one-third of the women continued to smoke in jail. Similarly, 66% of men and 77% of women prisoners used cocaine prior to arrest, while 24% and 21% respectively continued to snort behind bars.

"Use decreased because of the toughness of getting drugs in," said Biondi, "but it exists. We debunked the idea that you don't have drugs in prison."

While Brazilian prison health officials see solutions in treatment programs, the pervasiveness of marijuana and cocaine and their widespread sales by users guarantees a continuing supply of new prisoners absent real change in Brazilian drug policies. Reformers greeted the election of Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva with great hope, but he has so far failed to deliver on hinted drug policy changes. In the meantime, the Brazilian state resorts to "therapeutic justice," an Orwellian-sounding counterpart to the US drug court system, which enlists health professionals to serve criminal justice ends.

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Issue #304, 9/26/03 Editorial: Patients vs. Prosecutors | Pain Doctor Arrests Provoke Backlash -- Group Urges FDA to Stop Cooperating With Justice Department | Cheryl Miller Memorial Project Does DC | Hawaii Meth Mania: Drug Summit, Media Push Target "Ice" | Playing It Smart: Sensible Seattle and the Winning of I-75 | Newsbrief: Dr. Hurwitz Indicted, Jailed in Campaign Against Pain Doctors | Newsbrief: MAPS-Sponsored Ecstasy Research Wins Final FDA Approval | Newsbrief: Rio de Janeiro Jails Stuffed With Drug Offenders | Newsbrief: UN Warns Stimulants "Public Enemy Number One," Cites Flawed Science, Attacks "Liberalization" | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Cannabis Tolerance Showing Up in India | Newsbrief: Canadian Government to Appeal BC Marijuana Legalization Ruling | Newsbrief: Drug War Sparking Death Squad Killings Again in Philippines | Newsbrief: Ashcroft Says No Plea Bargains in Latest Bid to Send America to Prison Forever | Newsbrief: Mandatory Minimum Sentences Unfair, Says Supreme Court Justice | This Week in History | Current Action Alerts: Medical Marijuana, Plan Colombia, HEA, Ashcroft's Attack on Judicial Discretion | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | Errata: Last Week's Corrupt Cops Story | The Reformer's Calendar

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