Neusa Das Dores Pereira
Fellow Since 2003
This profile was prepared when Neusa Das Dores Pereira was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Neusa's idea stems from recognizing that the problems of Brazilian prisons are not only restricted to the jails, but also involve the periods before and after imprisonment. Measures taken during the period of imprisonment are largely palliatives, failing to address the underlying causes of criminal behavior. Neusa carries out preventative measures designed to raise inmate's self-esteem and foster appreciation and awareness-building activities with prison guards. This work leads to a less punitive and more constructive environment in the prisons. It also includes professional courses that help the prisoner reenter the labor market. Thus the project is changing relations both inside and outside the prison walls. Through CEDOICOM (Center for Documentation of Women's Issues)–an organization Neusa founded in 1994 with the goals of combating all kinds of oppression and discrimination against women and addressing issues related to gender, race, and poverty–she is developing the program "Project Family Awareness, Be Prepared!" (Projeto Família Consciente, Previne-se!). Through a comprehensive project in women's prisons, she works with all the parties involved, including prisoners, guards, families, and the Rio de Janeiro Penitentiary System Department. The organization also tries to build spaces for reflection for inmates, takes political action on behalf of lesbian mothers, carries out research studies, provides documentary and advisory services, monitors and suggests public policies, and conducts social and educational courses and activities that meet the interests of these marginalized women. Neusa tries to create the structural conditions necessary to prevent systematic violence against women and contribute to their reintegration into society.