Intellectuals and the public insecurity lobby in Brazil

What is the role of ordinary people in a democracy? What justifies a major media outlet replacing the terms “burglars” or “thieves” with “vulnerable”? How is it possible for a university professor to claim that he is in favor of robbery?

For a long time, Ricardo Dip and Volney Moraes Jr, former judges of the São Paulo Court of Justice, denounced the ambiguity with which some Brazilian intellectuals defined the role of the Brazilian people in the space of citizenship.

They realized that these intellectuals used to have great regard for the will of the Brazilian people only when that will coincided with what they thought. Otherwise, this same people would cease to occupy a respectable position in the space of the democratic process to become a mob of avengers, a bunch of bloodthirsty “paranoids”, a conglomeration of ignorant people who have no capacity to play any role in the design of criminal policies. , for being a subject supposedly forbidden to the common citizen and reserved only to the few enlightened ones of the intelligentsia Brazilian.

For most Brazilians, the criminal is not a victim, but a common individual, capable of exercising free choice, including that of sinking into savage delinquency.

This ambiguity of treatment is evidenced when we perceive the frequent public notes of non-governmental entities, made up of specialists in public security, academics and even magistrates, launching heavy attacks against any bills launched in the National Congress that seek to meet the collective aspirations of the overwhelming majority of the Brazilian people to fight violent banditry and the state of impunity that dominates our country.

The National Congress knows, and knows very well, what the people think about public security. More than 87% of Brazilians advocate lowering the age of criminal responsibility. Three out of four Brazilians believe that the appropriate punishment for a rapist would be life imprisonment. Faced with the state of rampant violence in which the country finds itself, more than half already support the death penalty, a number that has been growing alarmingly each year.

Why, then, practical, real, feasible and less drastic measures, with great potential to reduce violent crime rates and strong popular support, such as the bills that deal with prison in the second instance, the requirement of criminological examination for progression regime, banning sentences in open spaces for dangerous criminals, lowering the age of criminal responsibility or ending temporary departures, for example, are not approved by the National Congress?

The answer may lie in the so-called “lobby public insecurity”. The term was coined by Georges Fenech, a former French judge and author of several criminological studies, who in the 1990s identified in the Parliament, the media and universities of his country, hidden interests of certain groups that sought to encourage riots and small crimes in order to foster social instability.

These groups, according to Fenech, are very active in intelligentsia
media, in political, judicial, union or associative circles, maintained that French society was solely responsible for the crimes committed by delinquents because it generated social inequalities. This unique current of thought, which influenced French universities for some time, was called by Fenech the “culture of apology”, a kind of generalized de-accountability of criminals, which, according to the author, had a strong influence in France from the 1970s to the 1970s. end of the 20th century.

However, after the effects of the Second World War, it was noted that wealth and abundance, in addition to the significant improvement in social indicators obtained after the strong economic recovery in Europe at the end of the 20th century, were not accompanied by a reduction in crime. On the contrary, the numbers were inversely proportional. In France, crime rates such as rape, robberies and homicides grew exponentially in the period, demonstrating the deficiency of criminological theses that pointed to poverty and unemployment as the main causes of the increase in violent delinquency, a theory that in Brazil is supported by the so-called “Criminology Criticism”, “Radical”, “Marxist”, or “New Criminology”, strongly propagated and, it seems, dominant in Brazilian universities.

This is the reason why the great western democracies, despite the abundance and economic wealth, did not renounce the punitive prison as an instrument of crime control, on the contrary, they intensified the repressive penalties from the end of the 20th century. The reintroduction of life imprisonment in 2015 into the Spanish Penal Code, the relatively indefinite sentences in Portugal, the 1998 German zero-tolerance laws against sex offenders and other dangerous offenders, the provision of permanent imprisonment for violent criminals in France and Italy, and , finally, the maintenance of the death penalty to the present day in countries such as Japan and the USA, demonstrate that all first world nations have criminal repressive treatment much more severe than Brazil, world record holder in violent crimes such as femicide and rape .

Here, it is questionable whether some of these intellectuals, as happened in France, are not hiding some kind of ideological prejudice against the current economic model, seeking to foment and perpetuate the chaos of urban violence. Rampant criminality would be the price to be paid by victims and by the entire “oppressive capitalist society”, which causes social inequalities – even though the vast majority of victims come from the low-income strata of the population. Rich and poor alike should bear the cost of crime at the same level as a road accident or a disease of modern capitalism.

To pursue their purpose, NGOs and class entities – which do not represent the majority of the population – quickly label as inefficient, backward, even malicious and inhuman, any initiatives that seek to adopt more rigidity in the treatment of violent banditry, with the help of part of the engaged media and academia.

“Reduction of the age of criminal responsibility?”, asks the common citizen tormented by violence. “It doesn’t solve the crime”, answers the expert. “What about restricting or excluding open regimes for violent and dangerous criminals?” insists the suffering citizen. “It doesn’t reduce violence”, replies the expert. Increase the feathers? No way!

Rampant criminality would be the price to be paid by victims and by the entire “oppressive capitalist society”, which causes social inequalities.

But then what measure can solve then? The answer of the intellectuals is that this is a complex problem and that the solution is also complex. Then, instead of offering concrete measures to mitigate urban violence, the modern penalist starts to ramble on theoretical abstractions, dropping clichés like “education”, “police intelligence, “employment”, in a boring tautology, without ever pointing out feasible solutions to the problem. ordinary citizens, who, together with their families, are suffering – right now, at this very moment – ​​the consequences of the daily violence that has taken over the country.

Curiously, perhaps because they suffer the effects of violence, the average Brazilian citizen, despite being bombarded with late-modern critical criminology theses through the mainstream media, has long been overcome in countries such as France, Spain, Italy, Japan and the United States. , has not been receptive to these theories, postulating increasingly strict treatment and effective measures to deter and contain the violent criminal.

For most Brazilians, the criminal is not a victim, but a common individual, capable of exercising free choice, including that of sinking into savage delinquency. Interestingly, opinion polls show that members of the less favored classes reject even more strongly any theories that consider criminality as a kind of redistribution of goods in favor of the oppressed. They are the ones calling, even more strongly, for tougher laws against violent crime.

However, despite unmasking the false humanism of those who see crime as a legitimate form of violence that repairs social injustices – or even a logic in assault – it is unknown why the lobby of public insecurity has such a strong influence on the members of the National Congress, to the point of disregarding the collective claims of the real victim of violent crime: the common Brazilian citizen.

Filipe Regueira de Oliveira, graduated in Law, holds a postgraduate degree in Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure and an MBA in Public Security. He is a prosecutor at the Pernambuco Public Ministry and author of the book “Does Brazil arrest too much? Reflections on prison” by the publisher EDA.

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