The Coloniality of Justice: Naturalized Divisions During Pre-Trial Hearings in Brazil

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Custody hearings were introduced in Brazil in 2015 with the hope that prompt in-person presentation of detainees before a judge, rather than merely a police report, would de- crease the excessive use of pre-trial detention. However, the use of pre-trial detention remains high, especially for young Black men with low to no income. This chapter con- tributes to the literature by highlighting the coloniality of justice as manifested within ju- dicial decision-making at the pre-trial stage in Brazil. Analysis of twenty-six interviews with judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and specialists in Rio de Janeiro reveals the divergent treatment accorded to those on either side of the dichotomous notions of the bandido1 (criminal) and the cidadão de bem (the good citizen). A thematic framework analysis leads to a discussion of the white-centred nature of citizenship and justice and how stigmatized spaces are considered criminogenic. The chapter traces how colonial white-supremacist logic has persisted in naturalizing inhumane treatment of racialized groups in the collective consciousness of the gatekeepers of justice in Brazil.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDecolonizing the Criminal Question
Subtitle of host publicationColonial Legacies, Contemporary Problems
EditorsAna Aliverti, Henrique Carvalho, Anastasia Chamberlen, Máximo Sozzo
Place of PublicationOxford, U. K.
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780191983405
ISBN (Print)9780192899002
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2023


  • Coloniality
  • Judicial decision-making
  • Judicial Role
  • Brazil
  • colonialism
  • Decolonial
  • Justice
  • pretrial detention
  • criminal justice reform
  • citizenship
  • white supremacy
  • eurocentrism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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