Brazil discusses reduction of its minimum age of criminal responsibility without data

Brazil discusses reduction of its minimum age of criminal responsibility without data

Organisation: Folha de S.Paulo (Brazil)

Publication Date: 04/08/2016

Size of team/newsroom:large


The story revealed that the discussion about the reduction of the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Brazil, which mobilized significant public attention in 2015, was not supported by reliable statistics that measure the real participation of minors in crimes committed in the country. Our two-month investigation showed that there are no consolidated official data on this issue and that the only number frequently mentioned by the federal government – which supposedly proved that minors’ participation in homicides was very small - was false. Our story showed that only a minority of Brazilian states have some sort of data on juvenile delinquency as a proportion of total crimes committed by the population and that even these numbers, which are compiled using different methodologies, may vary quite significantly. It had a strong impact on public debate. After its publication, the then minister of Justice recognized that Brazil suffers from a lack of reliable statistics on crime. The story hit the marks of 20 thousand shares and around 30 thousand visits, being among the three Folha de S.Paulo's stories with the highest readership in the weekend that it was published.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

It helped to show that data journalism is crucial to the public debate and that statistics' analysis should be an essencial start point for policy making and legislative discussions and decisions. In the case of Brazil, this represents a significant contribution given that the public sector has not yet developed a tradition for evaluating the results of public policy.

Technologies used for this project:

We used Excel's tools to compile and analyse the data that we gathered during our two-month investigation.

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