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URVIO Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios de Seguridad

On-line version ISSN 1390-4299Print version ISSN 1390-3691


COIMBRA, Luiz Octavio  and  BRIONES, Álvaro. Crime and punishment. A reflection from Latin America. URVIO [online]. 2019, n.24, pp.26-41. ISSN 1390-4299.

This article presents the debate between two visions regarding ways to confront the criminality. On the one hand, the vision that human beings rationally decide their behavior and choose their options freely when facing the contrasted values ​​of crime and punishment. On the other hand, the idea that criminality may have roots in social and economic situations in which it is possible to act by correcting social anomalies and preventing crime. For the first of these visions, the penal sanction, the prison, represents exclusively the punishment; for the second, it is the path of rehabilitation and social reintegration. The article shows that, between these two alternatives, most Latin American countries have opted for the first during the last decades. Consequently, they have adopted “iron-fist” public policies, which emphasize the punishment instead of prevention and rehabilitation. The article seeks to demonstrate that this path has not yielded results in relation to the objective of dissuading delinquent behavior. Consequently, that policy must be modified.

Keywords : crime; government policy; Latin America; law enforcement; penal sanctions; prisons.

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