11 of 54 arsonists in Portugal are repeat offenders
Thanks to Peter for a link to the Diário de Notícias on the mainland. The newspaper reports that 20% of arsonists identied so far this year in Portugal are repeat offenders. They ask “What is failing in control” – In 2018 the government announced a program to rehabilitate convicts, but it was no more than a pilot project.
It is particularly pertinent ar arson is believed to be behind the fire in Monte over the weekend.
They describe one arsonist, unemployed, 45 years old, who set fire to 13 different sites in the municipality of Tondela, over a period of more than two weeks, until he was detained by GNR (the national guard) and PJ (the judiciary police) on 19 June. He burned an entire forested area next to houses and, according to the PJ, “the fires would have had more serious proportions had there not been a rapid intervention by firefighters and aerial means”.
At the beginning of the year, this man “had already been investigated and accused of the crime of forest fire”, emphasizes the Directorate of the Center of this police.
In the same municipality, in May, another 51-year-old unemployed man, suspected of having set a fire in the region, was also arrested. He, according to investigators from the Judiciary, “had already been convicted of the crime of forest fire in the past”.
On August 6, another man, this time a 30-year-old man, was caught by locals who alerted the GNR. He was arrested and, according to the criminal investigation department of PJ de Aveiro, “he is already a repeat offender for the same type of crime and has even been convicted and served a preventive prison sentence”.
The next day, a 59-year-old pastor, suspected of having started three fires, was arrested in Gouveia . He tells PJ that, “using the direct flame, making use of the lighter he was carrying and which was seized, putting fire on pasture and undergrowth, in three different points”. He also had a record for the same type of crime.
On August 17, a statement from the Northern Directorate of the PJ reported the arrest of a “presumed author” of three forest fires “in the Santo Tirso area . “According to this police, the 53-year-old man” has a history of two previous fire crimes”.
These five cases of recidivism are part of a total of 11 that the DN identified in the official communications of the PJ regarding the 54 arsonists detained from May to 27 August.
There are 20% of the group of detainees, a percentage that confirms that recidivism in this crime is increasing: the average between 1997 and 2018 was 17%, according to a study by the Office of Psychology and Selection (GPS) of the PJ.
But, last year, according to the data that was forwarded to the DN by Jorge Leitão, a public prosecutor, responsible for the Permanent Office of Monitoring and Support ( GPAA ) of the PJ, which coordinates all the prevention and investigation of fire crimes. , the number of recurrent arsonists reached 35% of the total.
Until the 15th of August, official data from the Ministry of Justice (MJ) indicated that 35 prisoners for forest fire crime were serving a prison sentence, four less than at the end of 2019, and seven less than in 2018. and 2017. As of this date, there were 36 inmates in pre-trial detention, most of whom have already been detained this year, in which this coercion measure broke all records.
Therapy for arsonists stopped two years ago
The newspaper asks what is being done to prevent these people from committing these crimes again? What control do the authorities have over these suspects, already mentioned and even some of them, originating in small towns and known to all?
Two years ago, in July 2018, the Ministry of Justice announced a program, unprecedented in our country, to rehabilitate, behaviorally and emotionally, this type of prisoners and prevent recurrences. It was called the Incendiary Rehabilitation Program (PRI) – it was developed by researchers at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom .
As the DN reported, the pilot project started that year, in the Lisbon Prison, with nine prisoners. It was expected to last 28 weeks, until November of that year, and then be “exported” to the whole country, with training of technicians also being carried out in Coimbra.
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