It may come as no surprise that inmates read more books than non-prisoners. Reading enhances both mind and body, it improves their imagination, and boosts their vocabulary. It gives prisoners hope and makes them think they can easily escape reality. A fictitious escape, of course, an innocent trick to sweeten their ugly reality…

However, for inmates at the Centre for Penitentiary Progression in Hortolândia in Brazil, books aren’t just a trick to fool the mind. In fact, reading is actually helping prisoners get out of the jail sooner than expected. Thanks to “The Prison Reviews” project, which comes out of the hands of book publisher Editora Carambaia and one of the most desirable agencies in the country, Artplan, inmates now have the chance to remit their sentence by four days.

According to a study conducted by Ibope—a media research leader in Latin America—Brazilian prisoners read nine times more than the national average of five books per year. Aware of such unusual fact, the publisher and the creative agency turned it into an amazing gift for the prisoners, who were invited to re-write their destiny and make it look brighter.

With the help of the National Justice Council (CNJ), the two partners proved that inmates are not only good readers but also exceptional book critics. Instructed by professor Elisande de Lourdes Quintino de Oliveira, the prisoners produced remarkable book reviews which were used by the publisher in many of its communication materials. Magazine ads, posters in bookstores, social networking posts, radio spots, and bookmarks among others are just a few examples of atypical canvas that host the reviews from behind the bars.

The literary analysis takes shape based on a series of books provided by the publisher, who donated them to the detention center to show that inmates are capable of imagination and creativity just as anyone else in the world.

“Carambaia is a publisher focused on those who are passionate about reading, and we find that no one reads more than the prisoners. By giving voice to them and using the texts they produced, we show society that they are thinking, critical beings with their own opinions, which must be respected. In addition, we give visibility to the beautiful work of Elisande in the prison of Hortolândia”, said Marcos Abrucio, Creative Director of Artplan, in a press release.

The campaign features an online portal that hosts the reviews and a series of videos with the inmates’ testimonials. There is also a short docu-style video produced by Videocubo, which depicts the prisoners and their personal reviews regarding the Carambaia experience.

“In a time when intolerance and segregation seem to be getting such strength, we believe it is important to support an inclusion project, especially for one of the most socially and culturally marginalized groups,” concluded Fabiano Curi, Editor of Carambaia. Would you buy a book based on such review? We certainly would!


Project: The Prison Reviews

Agency: Artplan

Client: Editora Carambaia

Creation: Ary Nogueira, Fred Cruz, Marcos Abrucio, Pablo Fernández Russo

Creative Direction: Marcelo Fedrizzi, Marcos Abrucio, Zico Farina

Website Development: Stephano Diego, Pedro Cernausan, Allisson Ferreira

Project Manager: Vivian Tomaz

Graphic Project: Bruno Werner

RTV: Patricia Oliva e Karoline Justino

Attendance: Eduardo Megale, Evelyn Silvestre, Rebecca Nociti, Vitória Borges

Media: Francisco Rosa, Halph Silva

Producer: Videocubo

Direction: Diogo Dias de Andrade

Direction of Photography: Anderson Capuano

Direct Sound: Alfredo Guerra

Graphics: Rhuan Lima

Edition: Diogo Dias de Andrade

Soundtrack/mixing: LOUD

Photographer: Marcel Valvassori

Image Treatment: BVMCross

Calligraphy and Illustrations: Andrea Branco, Ângelo Birão, Tag Lima

Client Approval: Fabiano Curi, Renata Minami