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The practical rationality of institutional isolation: a study of the detention process for young offenders in São Paulo

Grant number: 12/25083-3
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2013
Effective date (End): February 29, 2016
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology - Other specific Sociologies
Principal researcher:Marcos César Alvarez
Grantee:Bruna Gisi Martins de Almeida
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

The development of this work was guided by the following research problem: What upholds the practical rationality of the institutional isolation as an intervention for young offenders? To carry out this investigation, the object of inquiry were the folk theories about delinquency and about punishment employed in the practical reasoning of the actors responsible for the detention of young offenders. From an ethnomethodological perspective, the objective is to understand which interpretive procedures are involved in the actors' use of folk theories as means to produce the rational accountability of their activities. The empirical research was conducted at the organizations responsible for the implementation of the institutional isolation in Sao Paulo. In order to access the folk theories, the empirical data consists mostly of interviews and institutional documents. The result of the analysis is that the practical rationality of the institutional isolation of delinquents is sustained by interpretive procedures adopted analogously by both the judges and the detention centers' staff. These interpretive procedures transforms "structural" attributes, external to action - formulated as causes of the offense in the folk theories - into individual characteristics that can be changed by the institutional action and by the adolescents' will. On the one hand, the judges' use of the adolescents' "criticism" (showing repentance and empathy for the victim) as a criteria for deciding when to release them from detention, makes the institutional isolation reasonable since it will act upon and evaluate over time the development of this individual and moral attribute, the lack of which is seen as a consequence of the adolescents social background and the cause of the offense. On the other hand, the detention center staff interpret the adolescents' behavior in the institution as an index of their transformation for the life outside the institution. By establishing a continuity between "inside" and "outside", they make it possible to sustain the logic that the more submitted the adolescent is to the institution, more prepared he is to leave it. During the implementation of the institutional isolation, the main resource used to objectify these procedures are the reports produced by the staff and used as grounds for the judicial decision to end of the detention. The reports are the product of the narrative construction of the fact of the adolescent's transformation as a consequence of the detention.

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Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
ALMEIDA, Bruna Gisi Martins de. The practical rationality of institutional isolation: a study of the detention process for young offenders in São Paulo. 2016. Doctoral Thesis - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH/SBD) São Paulo.

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