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The ECA introduced a plurality of sanctions for juvenile offenders, as well as separating the responses of the system to socially vulnerable or abandoned juveniles from its responses to juvenile offenders. ECA provides for custodial as well as noncustodial sanctions.

Custodial Rules for Juveniles

The custodial sanctions for juveniles include confinement in an educational facility and “semi-liberty,” in which the juvenile attends work or school during the day and returns to an educational facility at night. According to ECA, the sanction of confinement is to be used “when an infraction is committed using grave threat or violence to another” and “under no circumstance will internment be applied when there is another applicable sanction available” (Art. 122, ECA, 1990).[1] There are no set limits for confinement based on the type of offense. Rather, the continuance of a sanction of confinement is to be reevaluated at least every 6 months. The ECA stipulates that no period of confinement shall exceed a period of 3 years. After such a period, the juvenile should be placed in semiliberty or a noncustodial sanction. Release from custody is also compulsory when the juvenile reaches 21 years of age.

The sanction of semi-liberty can be applied either as an initial measure or a transitional one from a custodial to a noncustodial sanction. Such a sanction requires that the juvenile be engaged actively in employment or schooling. Juveniles in semi-liberty return to the same facilities as those in traditional confinement, and the length and nature of the sanction follow the same guidelines as confinement (no prescribed length, minimum 6 months review, and maximum 3 year sanction). In addition to the sanctions of confinement and semi-liberty, some juveniles are held in provisional confinement, when, after initial detention by police, their release poses an immediate threat to themselves or the community. Such confinement is limited to a maximum of 45 days.

The facilities for confinement, described as educational facilities in the ECA, are establishments for the exclusive purpose of housing juvenile offenders, with separation of offenders by age and type of offense. The ECA also stipulates that while in confinement, juveniles must have access to weekly visits; correspondence with family and friends; schooling and job training; cultural, sporting, and leisure activities; and religious guidance, if desired. These facilities are run by each of the individual states, under a branch of the executive. In 2013, the most recent data was made available by the SENASE (the National System of Socio-Educational Services). The data show that there were a total of 23,066

juveniles in custody in Brazil, either in confinement (64 %), semi-liberty (10 %), or provisional confinement (23 %), equivalent to 0.08 % of the total juvenile population. These juveniles were housed in 466 juvenile custodial facilities in Brazil, with 46 % of these concentrated in the more populous southeast region of the country. Of this total, 377 were dedicated to housing only male juvenile offenders, 52 housed both female and male offenders, and 37 housed only female offenders. The administration of most juvenile facilities falls under the secretaries of social defense and citizenship (13 states). In some states, however, the administration is part of the secretaries of justice (7 states), labor (4 states), specific secretaries for juvenile welfare (2 states), or even under the secretary of education (1 state) (Secretaria de Direitos Humanos da Presidencia da Rephblica 2013).

  • [1] ECA, article 122, section I, “tratar-se de ato infracional cometido mediante grave ameafa ou vio-lencia a pessoa” and ECA, article 122, paragraph 2, “Em nenhuma hipotese sera aplicada a inter-nafao, havendo outra medida adequada,” author’s translation.
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