Brazilian prisoners cycle their way to shorter sentences

The Santa Rita do Sapucai jail in Brazil has found a new energy source: its own inmates! A new policy introduced by Judge Jose Henrique Mallmann allows prisoners to reduce their sentence by riding stationary bikes to generate electricity. One day is deducted from a sentence for every sixteen hours cycled and the electricity produced is then used to power light bulbs in the city centre of Southern Minas.    

The voluntary scheme has proved so popular that eight more bikes have been ordered to add to the two already in the prison courtyard, it is believed power from these bikes would be enough to ‘illuminate an entire avenue’ in the city centre. Prisoners are said to enjoy the exercise and opportunity to break up the monotony of their daily routine, with one inmate claiming to have lost ‘about four pounds’ already.      

Judge Jose Henrique Mallmann found inspiration for the idea while reading about similar programs already established in America. At the Tent City Prison in Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio instigated a program known as ‘pedal vision’ in 2010. The scheme allows female inmates to watch an hour of television for every hour of cycling on a stationary bike completed.

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