Institutionalisation, Reform and Independence of the Public Defender’s Office in Brazil


Bras. Political Sci. Rev.




The aim of this article is to investigate the institutionalisation of the state Public Defender's Offices before and after the reform that granted independence and new functions to the Public Defender's Offices in Brazil. We attempt to understand these processes based on theories of judicial empowerment (ideational and governance perspectives), analyse them in the Brazilian states by means of an analysis of two indicators in three different time periods (before, during and after the reform) and verify to what extent the formal (de jure) advances were involved in the exercise of autonomy in the states. The analysis reveals that in spite of the formal achievement of independence, the majority of state Public Defender's Offices are not actually independent and there is a great gap between what the laws stipulate and what actually happens in the public provision of access to justice in Brazil.

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