Friday, July 5, 2013

Flying by the police - São Paulo

This news clipping is from the Folha de São Paulo and is about a crack user who is suspected of killing a college student at a party. It's from the "Cotidiano" or "Every Day" section of the São Paulo newspaper...a section my mom would call "Murder and Mayhem" much like the Metropolitan section of the NY Times used to be (and maybe still is).  Cotidiano is filled with robberies, murders, traffic jams, weather and other "every day" occurrences in the city.

In the second paragraph there is one of my favorite police-isms (sorry, give me a little grammatical license, okay?). It says that the suspect "já tem passagem pela polícia". The phrase means that the suspect already has a history with the police. He has a file. But since "passagem" is also an airline ticket, it always makes me think of the criminal 'flying by' the police station. And unfortunately, that is frequently the case. The Brazilian justice system means that anyone who has committed a crime with a penalty of fewer than four years does not even stop over in the police station. No prison. Robbery? Under 4 year penalty--out on the street. Most domestic abuse cases--under four years, out on the streets. Drug abuse? Under four years...out on the street. So to call it a "passagem" or fly-by is really quite accurate. The reason for this is mostly prison overcrowding--they save the choice long-term spots for the "serious" crimes--and yes, murder is one of them.

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