Drugs and prisons in Brazil

09 December 2010
Multi-media

In Brazil, possession of drugs for personal consumption is punished with educational measures and community service, not prison. In this video, a young man tells of the disparity in sentencing between the wealthy and the poor.

Marcos Vinicius do Espirito Santo is a 23 year-old father of three children. He worked unloading fish at the dock when he says he purchased 25 grams of marijuana for his own consumption. He was arrested not for possession but for drug trafficking, and sentenced to 6 years in prison.

Marcos speaks from Bangu prison in Rio de Janeiro about the overcrowded conditions and how the wealthy and big time traffickers are not the one’s who fill the jails: “the one who loses is the poor person, on minimum wage, who can’t find a job, who is desperate, gets some drugs, and sells them to support his family.” He tells of the cycle of poverty that is reinforced by harsh drug laws.