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  • A bag of marijuana in Rio de Janeiro.

    A bag of marijuana in Rio de Janeiro. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 February 2018

The decision to jail the mother and her three-day-old newborn was made during an on-site custody court hearing on carnival day.

Jessica Monteiro, a 24-year-old mother, has been jailed along with her three-day-old newborn baby, Henrico, for possessing 90 grams of marijuana in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo. Her husband, Oziel Gomes da Silva, 48, has also been detained on drug trafficking charges, according to Radio CBN.

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The decision to maintain the couple behind bars was made during an on-site custody court hearing on carnival day. Soon thereafter, Monteiro went into labor and was escorted to Inacio Proenca de Gouveia Municipal Hospital. After giving birth, she was taken back to jail, according to Carta Capital.

Monteiro's defense lawyer, Paulo Henrique Guimaraes Barbezane, had just arrived to the court hearing when he was informed that his client had been taken to the hospital.

Prosecuting attorney Ana Laura Ribeiro Teixeira Martins requested that the couple be detained. They are being held the 8th Police District in the Bras neighborhood. Now it's up to judge Claudio Salvetti D'Angelo to decide whether to keep them in holding.

Monteiro and her newborn were initially placed in a dirty cell measuring roughly two square meters. They were eventually transferred to a prison that has a designated space for mothers of newborn babies.

During a series of lectures in Brazil about the war on drugs, Deborah Smalls, an advocate for the decriminalization of drugs, said that when you observe the “history of the Americas, from Canada to Chile,” you find the legacies of slavery, colonialism and genocide of the Indigenous population. She assured that until these societies are prepared to deal with this reality “honestly,” criminal justice politics, including politics related to drugs, will always be developed in racial and discriminatory terms.

Brazil has the third largest prison population in the world behind China and the United States, according to the World Prison Brief.

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