Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
“We need to replace punishment with education, family, moral values, and treatment for those who want it.”
Jorge Da Silva is a retired colonel of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police. He joined the Military Police in 1963 and retired as general chief of staff in 1994. After retiring, he continued to work in administration of the state of Rio de Janeiro, coordinating the state government’s sectors of public security, justice, civil defense and citizenship. In 2003, he was appointed secretary of state for human rights, a position he occupied until 2006.
During most of his career as a police officer, Jorge supported prohibition and tough measures against drug users and traffickers. “I thought that drugs such as marijuana and cocaine were satanic substances, a fatal path to moral degradation and even death, although I thought that alcohol was not harmful if used in moderation.”
But as the years passed, he started to have some doubts. “Despite the efforts of the police and the government, nothing changed,” he says. “In fact, there were changes, but they were changes for the worse: more dealers, more users, more shooting, more deaths, more communities dominated by gangs, and more violence.”
These observations, combined with the realization that a “world without drugs” was unrealistic and unreasonable, led him to change his mind about prohibition. “Drugs – whether illegal or legal – are an important social issue that should not be dealt with by police. We need to replace punishment with education, family, moral values, and treatment for those who want it,” Jorge says.
Jorge Silva is currently an adjunct professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), where he coordinates studies on public order and human rights. He is also an invited researcher at the Studies Center of the Fluminense Federal University (UFF). He has published six books and several articles and essays in Brazilian and foreign journals, all related to police, public security, urban violence, racism, and criminology.