Patrick Bruha

Patrick Bruha

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Hiring Former Prisoners in Brazil

Patrick Bruha

Patrick Bruha

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


In Brazil, the government offers incentives for companies that hire prisoners and former prisoners, in order to reinsert these individuals into the labor market. In this article, we will take a closer look at these benefits.

The Brazilian prison system is the fourth most crowded in the world, with a prison population of nearly 550.000 people in 2013. As if that were not already a big concern for the government, the perspective of solving this problem is quite negative, as Brazil presents a high rate of criminal recidivism, with 70% of all released inmates going back to committing crimes.

This high rate exposes a deficiency in Brazilian society in reinserting prisoners, revealing that the mechanisms of social inclusion for those who have left jail and are willing to start a new life are insufficient. With this in mind, the government set up a series of benefits and legal requirements that makes the employment of prisoners and former prisoners more desirable for companies.

Benefits by the government

Several incentives were presented by the government in order to encourage companies to hire prisoners and former prisoners.

Lei de Execução Penal

The first set of incentives that can be outlined are the Lei de Execução Penal, which is Portuguese for Crime Enforcement Law. Valid since July 1984, it establishes the following resolutions about work of prisoners under closed and semi-open conditions:

  • The employment of prisoners is not subject to the regulations of Consolidação das Leis do Trabalho (CLT), Portuguese for Consolidation of Labor Laws. Because of this, the reduction of expenses with manpower can reach 50% in relation to an employee that receives minimum wage
  • It is the responsibility of the employer to pay the prisoner’s wage, as well as food and transportation costs. Thus, the employer is exempt from complying with labor benefits such as paid holidays, 13th salary and other similar benefits
  • The minimum wage for prisoners can be up to 25% less than the value of the national minimum wage
  • Prisoners are considered as optional taxpayers of the Brazilian Social Security, the INSS

Other projects

In addition to the Lei de Execução Penal, several states offer programs that encourage the employment of prisoners and former prisoners.

São Paulo created a program called Pró-Egresso, which is focused on the reinsertion of former prisoners into the labor market and is valid for both adults who were already released from prison and young offenders who attended courses in social education for social reintegration. Through this program, the state government requires that companies that win a public bidding offer at least 5% of the total number of positions to former prisoners.

This measure is valid for public biddings for works and services in the areas of:

In Minas Gerais, Projeto Regresso was created through means of an agreement with FIEMG, the Federation of Industries of Minas Gerais. Through this program, the state government will offer a subsidy, to the company, equivalent to two minimum wages for each former prisoner that is employed by the company, during a period of 24 months.

A program similar to Projeto Regresso was created in Alagoas in 2010. The program grants subsidies equal to one minimum wage, to the company, for each former prisoner employed by the company, while the former prisoner is employed.

In Ceará, the state government implemented Projeto de Integração, which grants reductions in the tax duty referring to Imposto sobre Circulação de Mercadorias e Serviços (ICMS), Portuguese for Tax on Circulation of Goods and Services. The reduction in the tax duty is equal to:

  • 1% of ICMS reduction if up to 3% of the company’s workers are prisoners in semi-open or open conditions, or former prisoners
  • 2% of ICMS reduction if up to 5% of the company’s workers are prisoners in semi-open or open conditions, or former prisoners
  • 3% of ICMS reduction if up to 10% of the company’s workers are prisoners in semi-open or open conditions, or former prisoners

Projeto Começar de Novo

Apart from the set of incentives set up by the Lei de Educação Penal and other state incentives, the National Justice Council created Projeto Começar de Novo in 2009, which is Portuguese for Project Start Over.

The main objective of this Project is to reinsert prisoners and former prisoners back into the labor market, through agreements signed with public and private entities. A website called Portal de Oportunidades showcases all job vacancies and professional courses offered exclusively for prisoners and former prisoners. It is up to the public and private entities that participate in the Program to keep the Portal updated, and it is possible to register your company here.

As of October 2014, there are 4.163 available job opportunities and 1.356 places on professional courses. Since 2009, more than 14.000 job opportunities and over 7.500 places on professional courses were offered through the Portal de Oportunidades.