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Incarcerating at any cost: drug trafficking and imprisonment in Brazilian court reasoning

Rocha Machado, Maíra, de Souza Amaral, Mariana Celano, de Barros, Matheus and Klink de Melo, Ana Clara (2019) Incarcerating at any cost: drug trafficking and imprisonment in Brazilian court reasoning. Journal of Illicit Economies and Development, 1 (2). 226–237. ISSN 2516-7227

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Identification Number: 10.31389/jied.37

Abstract

Brazil has the third largest prison population worldwide—over 700,000 people. At least 28% of them are in prison for drug trafficking. Given that situation, this paper explores the conflicts among the law; the Supremo Tribunal Federal, or Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF) and lower court precedents. Based on a qualitative and quantitative study of Tribunal de Justiça de São Paulo, or São Paulo State Supreme Court (TJSP) and Superior Tribunal de Justiça, or Brazilian Superior Court of Justice (STJ) decisions between 2017 and 2018, this paper focuses on the arguments put forward by those courts to prevent the imposition of non-custodial sanctions on people convicted of drug trafficking even though they may be first-time offenders with no criminal record. Our research shows the main arguments used are related to the amount, type and variety of seized drugs; the convict’s criminal history; the person’s employment status at the time of arrest and the insufficiency of non-custodial sentences in cases of drug trafficking. Our conclusion is that the reasoning behind convictions for drug trafficking favors imprisonment even in situations in which the law and the STF precedents would allow non-custodial sentences.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 The Authors
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2019 12:15
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2020 23:27
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/101086

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