Legal Assistance Office for Grassroots Organizations (GAJOP)

Dialogues for change: fighting structural racism in pre-trial detentions in Pernambuco


Objectives and target audience

Contribute to granting the rights of those people provisionally arrested and to the consolidation of actions that address the abusive and unlawful use of pretrial detention, leading to the enormous incarceration of black population, undertaken through the consolidation of a structural racism logic.



Main activities

  • Organization of meetings with the Social Defense Integrated Academy to discuss capacity-building strategies.
  • Promotion of dialogues with police instructors on structural and institutional racism.
  • Promotion of capacity building workshops on structural and institutional racism with police officers in charge of patrolling the ten most violent neighborhoods of Recife.
  • Evaluation and systematization of the capacity building project for security officers and agents.
  • Organization of meetings with the Public Ministry, Judiciary and Public Defender’s Office to discuss the importance of custody hearings.
  • Data collection during custody hearings.
  • Qualitative interviews with pre-trial detainees.
  • Systematization and production of published material on the experience.
  • Advertising campaign.
  • Organization of a seminar to publicize the survey on the impacts of custody hearings.
  • Evaluation of the advertising campaign.



Pernambuco has ranked fourth among the Brazilian states in the total number of prisoners, followed by São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro. It also ranked fifth in the largest number of pre-trial detainees, 59% of the prison population of the state, according to InfoPen 2015 data.

Pernambuco has the worst prison in the country not only concerning overcrowding, but also with regard to human rights violations, as shown in a report released in October 2015 by Human Rights Watch (HRW) named The State Let Evil Take Over.

The 35-page document presents a daily chaotic picture in the Curado prison complex (former Anibal Bruno prison complex). There, three in every five inmates are pre-trial detainees, number that corresponds to more than 3,500 of the total 7,000 inmates who are in the complex, which maximum capacity is 1.800.

Currently, in Pernambuco, it is easy to realize that the State has consciously opted for imprisonment, to the point of defining a specific number of arrests in the targets to be met by each of the 25 Integrated Security Areas (SIA’s).

When these targets are met cash prizes, called Pact for Life Gratification (GPPV), ranging from R$250.00 to R$1,000.00 per police officer (in 2012), are offered to the involved teams.


About the organization

GAJOP was founded in 1981 in Recife, by a group of lawyers who wanted to work with legal education for low-income people, specifically on the right to housing. There was no organization working with issues related to the right of security. GAJOP felt the need to formulate proposals for the security and justice system, including the development of a new type of operation for the police. That was when the organization stopped working with housing and chose another intervention object: the right to security and justice. GAJOP is an organization that articulates the National Human Rights Movement in Pernambuco.

Funding Line

Criminal Justice / Racism / Northeast of Brazil (2016)



Total Granted

R$ 80,000


12 months

Main Themes

Guaranteeing the rule of law and criminal justice

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