Justice for Black women in temporary custody in the state of Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Objectives and target audience

To establish a study and research center through a partnership to be held between the Center against Racial Inequality of the Public Defender’s Office of Rio de Janeiro, the Legal Practice Center of UNIRIO and the Model Office of PUC-RJ. This body will conduct research to identify Black women in pre-trial detention, categorize the criminal types in which they are framed, and to develop methodologies that could be reproduced in defense of the human rights of these women. Research involves publications and the organization of at least three rounds of debate. In addition to the production of knowledge, this center will seek legal, political and social solutions to demands that involve violations of the rights of imprisoned Black women. It will also seek to implement educational activities to discuss the problems arising from the pre-trial detention of Black women, bringing young law students closer to the prison’s reality.

Main activities

  • Develop surveys, research, follow-ups and periodic evaluations.
  • Elaborate, edit and print a booklet on the human rights of Black women in prison.
  • Elaborate, publish and print detailed interdisciplinary reports.
  • Elaborate a campaign and launch advertising pieces.
  • Implement core studies formed by the proponent organization and partners.
  • Explore the material and raise the first primary and secondary data of the research.
  • Organize a focus group with Black women in pre-trial detention.
  • Organize discussions.
  • Transcribe and process the data collected by the focus group.


According to a survey made by the National Penitentiary Department in 2014 (INFOPEN, 2014), the rate of incarceration in Brazil increased 33% between 2008 and 2014 and is now the fourth in the world, and the fifth in what regards women’s incarceration.  This national survey of penitentiary information indicated that 41% of women and men in prison are pre-trial detainees. Pre-trial detention, despite its exceptional character, has been used in an excessive and authoritarian way in the Brazilian justice system, impelling serious violations of human rights.  Torture, violence, ill-treatment, and neglect persist in Brazilian prisons. The scenario of increasing rates of incarceration, coupled with precarious prison conditions, is even more disturbing when we consider gender and race. INFOPEN Women found that in the period from 2000 to 2014 the female prison population increased 567.4%, while for men the average growth in the same period was 220.20%. In Brazil, two out of three (68%) of these incarcerated women are Black or Brown. The situation is especially critical in Rio de Janeiro, where 86% of women in prison are Black. The structure behind the mass incarceration in Rio de Janeiro is compounded by the lack of free legal assistance, which does not have adequate structure, human or material resources.

About the organization

Criola is a civil society organization founded in 1992 and led by Black women. It acts in the defense and promotion of the rights of Black women, young women and girls through an integrated and transversal perspective. Throughout her career, Criola has worked on mobilization and advocacy initiatives at the local, national and international levels, providing capacity training for activists aimed at  confronting violence and reducing mortality by fostering the creation of community groups and Black women’s networks, projects to guide and support women in situations of violence, including the training of PLP-Popular Legal Promoters; strategic litigation in defense of Black women and girls; leadership training; preparation of publications and creation of  cyber-activism platforms and campaigns to mobilize public opinion against racism; production of the campaign “Virtual Racism: The Consequences are Real” in partnership with the advertising agency W3Haus.

Funding Line

Criminal Justice and Human Rights



Total Granted

R$ 150 mil


18 months

Main Themes

Guaranteeing the rule of law and criminal justice

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