Public Security, Criminal Policy and Sentencing in Brazil during the Lula and Dilma Governments, 2003-2014: Changes and Continuities
Since mid-1980s crime rates in Brazil started to increase with the transition from military dictatorship to democracy, a period marked by the rise of poverty and hyperinflation. Given levels of police corruption and protection of criminal gangs, trust in the criminal justice system was low, leading to a heightened dependence on private security, gated communities and the politicisation of law and order politics. An impressive punitive turn began at in the 1990s. This paper analysed penal policies under successive left-wing Lula and Dilma governments from 2003 to 2014. During this period the rise of ‘postneoliberal’ and ‘postneoconservative’ politics, led by the Workers Party, developed governmental strategies and initiatives that formulated and legitimized rich and complex expressions of traditionally left-wing politics. Despite the simultaneous implementation of distributive policies, the increase of human development levels throughout the country, the reduction of social inequalities and the redirection of the official discourse of Federal Government security policies towards crime prevention, incarceration rates continued to increase. This article examines why efforts to build an effective public security policy committed to upholding civil rights and improving the control of police and police activities have failed.
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