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Pedaling Freedom: Prisoners in Brazil Can Decrease Sentences by Charging Batteries With Stationary Bikes


"They are gaining remission and producing energy, healthy energy."

Taking a hint from Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a prison in Brazil is incentivizing stationary biking. In both cases -- in Arizona and Brazil's Santa Rita do Sapucaí prison -- the biking is used to generate energy. In Brazil though, the exercise can actually help reduce inmates sentence times (in Arizona they more simply are given use of the TV).

According to the country's National Journal (translated from Spanish), Judge José Henrique Mallmann got the idea from American institutions that had implemented this system, saying he believes it will help control potentially destructive down time. The prison has two bikes that charge batteries when they're pedaled. Every 16 hours pedaled is equivalent to one less day behind bars.

The prisoners may not get to see the literal fruits of their labor, but those passing in the city square at night do. The National Journal reports a day of pedaling is worth powering six light bulbs in the square. At some point, the prison hopes to have 10 bikes running that will help light up the whole street.

The inmates, in addition to reducing sentences, have reported losing weight as well. One of the prison's wardens also said that the atmosphere within the prison has changed since the inmates started biking.

"They are working towards cycling," Gilson Silva Rafael said to the National Journal. "They are gaining remission and producing energy, healthy energy. Today there is much talk about sustainability."

Weight loss was the reason why Arpaio instituted the biking system with the female inmates in Arizona in the first place. CBS News reported in 2010 that Arpaio created a system where the bike the inmates pedaled would power the TV they were watching. If they slowed down to certain point, the TV would shut off as well.

(H/T: io9)

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