The Brazilian Fraternity of Assistance to the Convicted (FBAC), a non-governmental, non-profit entity, oversees a privately-owned prison system, the Association for the Protection and Assistance to the Convicted (APAC).
These prisons are nothing like traditional detention centers; the inmates are even given the keys to their own cells, but none leave.
APAC operates under the assumption that every person can change under the right circumstances.
Valdeci Ferreira is at the heart of this change.
Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship
When he was 21 years old, Valdeci Ferreira decided that his life’s purpose was the rehabilitation of criminals.
His dedication over the last three decades made the number of APACs leap from 1 to 49 units spread out in five Brazilian states, accommodating approximately 3,500 convicts.
He was received in 2016 by Pope Francis as part of a conference organized by UNIAPAC (the Christian Union of Business executives) on Business Leaders as Agents of Economic and Social Inclusion.
FBAC is the Brazilian Fraternity which oversees 49 units of privately-run detention centres over five Brazilian states.
Each local unit is called APAC – Association for the Protection and Assistance of the Convicted.
The Fraternity acts like a “franchise” model.
Its role is to congregate, orient and oversee all of 49 APACs, provide training and legal support, and ensure that the prisoner rehabilitation methodology is applied correctly.
This includes regular inspections, visits, and support to 100 APACs under implementation.
FBAC is also responsible for engaging Judiciary, Legislative and Executive Branches on the implementation, consolidation and expansion of APACs, as well as promotion of the model internationally.
Nowadays, there are APACs in 23 countries including:
Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, Germany, and Uruguay.
Under Valdeci Ferreira’s leadership for more than three decades, APACs have proven to be an effective alternative to the Brazilian state-run prison system by reducing recidivism rates to 20% – 28%.
This is accomplished through a 12-point proven methodology that includes the following:
community participation, recoveree helping the recoveree, work, spirituality, legal assistance, healthcare, human valourization, family, merit and volunteering.
The units do not have armed guards and inmates manage all the kitchen work, cleaning, and maintenance. As a result, the per-prisoner cost in the APAC system is just 30% that of traditional prisons.
The conditions for convicts to enter an APAC are that they must be convicted to a jail sentence, must be resident in the region where the sentence is served and must express along with their family the desire to change life in writing.
If the inmate fulfils these requirements, he will wait until the judge decides on his transfer from the common prison, according to APAC vacancies.
His Franchise of Humane Prisons
Win the 2018 Social Entrepreneur Prize
Valdeci Ferreira is in charge of FBAC, a federation that oversees the so-called APAC (Association for the Protection and Assistance of the Convicted).
The civil entity is a non-profit whose mission is to disseminate an innovative methodology that helps reinsert prisoners into society by setting out to rehabilitate convicts, protect society, help victims and promote restorative justice.
The award was a form of recognizing the work done by Mr. Ferreira, one among 160 candidates who signed up for this year’s Social Entrepreneur Prize – the most prominent prize in Latin America for the field – which is conducted by Folha, and its partner, the Schwab Foundation.
It is estimated that over 33 thousand inmates convicted by Brazil’s justice system have gone through the doors of APACs: humane prison units that have prison guards, but are gun-free.
This alternative prison system is currently the home to 3,500 convicts, spread out among the 48 units that exist in Brazil. The method is also being applied in 19 countries.
In 1972, the organization elaborated its own methodology composed of 12 principles, among which are labor, human enhancement, legal help, family, meritocracy and the concept of reciprocal help between rehab students.
The method has a recidivism rate that is somewhere between 20% and 28%.
For the sake of comparison, the recidivism rate in Brazil’s penitentiary system is 85% – while APACs cost a third of what an average prison costs.