The Minister of Justice, Francisca Van Dunem, who was speaking at a ceremony in Caxias to mark the start this month and in May, of courses to train more prison guards, stressed that in that four-year period more than 400 staff were introduced into the prison system.
"If in 2015 we had a prison guard ratio of 3.4 we will now have a ratio below 3, around 2.7," the minister noted.
As for the new trainees who are now starting the course, Francisca Van Dunem said she hoped that the integration would correspond to "a movement of systematic reinforcement and renewal of human resources allocated to prison services", in which the Ministry of Justice is "deeply committed".
The minister argued that being a prison guard "is not a career through which one passes transitorily" and "from which one changes", arguing that it is "a perennial career in which one can live a whole life".
"A whole life doing the same thing: watching over the security of prison spaces and those whom the State through the courts has deprived of liberty. In our system, prison guards are the first face of the State in the daily life of prisoners", she considered.
Francisca Van Dunem said that the new prison guard reinforcements are "supposed to be firm and determined in action", but that in doing so, they should always have in perspective the respect for fundamental rights.
"And not only because our prison system is periodically evaluated by national and international bodies. We must do so out of respect for the Constitution of the Republic, the Constitution that affirms the dignity of all human beings, and in obedience to the philosophy of re-socialisation that shapes our punitive system," he stressed.
In his view, the evolution of the Portuguese prison system is "a mark of civilisation".
"We have reached this moment at the end of a long history. We are proud of the humanist tradition of Portugal, which was at the forefront of the abolition of the death penalty in the second half of the 19th century, a fact that earned the applause of the world," he also recalled.
The training will include 154 trainees (75 in the first edition and 79 in the second), of which 125 are men and 29 women, from all over the national territory (Mainland Portugal and the Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira).
The CFICGP 2021 will last nine months, four of which will be theoretical-practical training and the remaining five in a real work context in 10 prisons (EP) (two female and eight male EP).