12,867 people were arrested in 2018 and 154 young people hospitalized in existing educational centers. For what and for whom were prison and reintegration services built? Is there an institutionalization cycle? What goes on over there walls?
At the end of 2018, 12,867 people were imprisoned in 49 prisons and 154 young people hospitalized in eight educational centers in Portugal. For what and for whom were prison and reintegration services built? Is there an institutionalization cycle? What goes on over there walls? And will they ever leave the prisons of having them?
Twelve years after its construction began, the first inmates were admitted to the oldest Portuguese prison in Lisbon, in 1885 . Almost a century and a half later, the majority of the prison population lives to the north, in the overcrowded prison of Custóias, in Matosinhos. Of the 12,867 people arrested in the 49 Portuguese prisons, at the end of 2018, 1070 lived in this prison designed to house 686 inmates. A place, like the others, designed for isolation and punishment .
In July, the Ordem dos Enfermeiros saw in the mental illness clinic of the Santa Cruz do Bispo Prison, in Matosinhos, “a scenario of chaos, overcrowding, lack of professionals and inhumane conditions of hygiene and accommodation”. In December, the European Court of Human Rights sentenced the Portuguese State to pay a fine for “degrading treatment” to which an inmate was subjected, while he spent in shared cells with a personal space of less than three square meters. On December 6, 2019, the United Nations Committee Against Torture expressed its concern about allegations of the use of excessive force and other abuses against people from ethnic minorities, conditions of detention and overcrowding in prisons.
After all, who should be arrested? What are prisons for? There are crimes that still are, but should they not be? If we look seriously at who is locked in a cell, what coincidences will there be between these people? Where do they come from? What possessions did they have? How much power or access to it?
From what model were prison and reintegration services designed, for which 154 young people are still hospitalized , in eight educational centers? What's going on in there? Is there a vicious circle of institutionalization? Where does it start and where does it end? Are there, in prisons, who legitimize discrimination and punishment that the law does not enshrine?
A closer look at the prison system may be a good mirror on our model of society.