Look at the exercisers. How nice to see people trying to be healthy! Especially since they look like they need it. But wait. There is a guy with a gun! And in camo. Has the Bloomberg administration gone around the bend in its closing days? Are New Yorkers being forced to get healthy at gunpoint?
No and no. The perps pictured above are incarcerated Brazilians. They are pedaling not only for their health, but to generate electricity that will light city street lamps. For their exertions, they will earn time off their sentences.
The program is the brainchild of one judge, Jose Henrique Mallmann, who presides in the small city of Santa Rita do Sapucasi. Intrigued by the a story about a gym in the US that got part of its electricity from pedaling members, he resolved to put some prisoners to work at the medium security prison nearby. The bicycles are hooked up to car batteries (both bike and batteries donated by local businesses), which are then used to light streetlamps in this small city, providing light and security where there was none before.
For every three eight-hour shifts a prisoner pedals for electricity, one day is shaved of their sentence. This is a medium-security prison, so serial killers won’t be biking their way to freedom.
America’s prison population has grown by 800 percent since 1980, according to the Washington Post. We need some equally creative thinking on this side of the equator when is comes to both prison reform and energy generation.