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Monday, July 16, 2012

Inmates at Brazil prison pedal for electricity - and their freedom [Today News]


Image: Ronaldo da Silva, left, and fellow inmates pedal stationary bikes to charge car batteries at a prison in Santa Rita do Sapucai, Brazil
Felipe Dana  /  AP
Ronaldo da Silva, left, and fellow inmates pedal stationary bikes to charge car batteries at a prison in Santa Rita do Sapucai, Brazil on Friday. An innovative program allows inmates at this medium-security prison to shave days off their sentences in exchange for riding stationary bikes hooked up to converted car batteries that are used to illuminate Santa Rita do Sapucai's town square.

Brazilian inmate Ronaldo da Silva hops on a bicycle and pedals furiously, clocking up several miles before slowing down and jumping off.
Silva hasn't gotten far, in fact not an inch. He's still inside the medium-security prison where he's serving a 5.5-year sentence for holding up a bakery, standing next to a stationary bike.
But he did move a bit closer to freedom. Silva is part of an innovative program that allows inmates at a prison in Brazil's southeastern Minas Gerais state to reduce their sentences in exchange for generating power to help illuminate the town at night.
By pedaling the prison's stationary bikes, the inmates charge a battery that's used to power 10 street lamps along the town's riverside promenade. For every three eight-hour days they spend on the bikes, Silva and the voluntary program's other participants get one day shaved off their sentences.

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