Brazil’s prison system at breaking point

The prison system in Brazil is at breaking point with 249,000 more prisoners currently detained than the system can officially accommodate.

Riots and escapes are an almost daily occurrence, with news of brutality beyond compare being shown through the global press and social media.

Ancient and run down prisons built to house a few hundred inmates are so overcrowded, that they house prisoners in their thousands. Space is so scarce that it is not a case of prisoners not having a room, or a bed, but not even space to lie down.

The Anisio Jobim Penitentiary Complex in Manaus, Brazil, is so overcrowded that although it’s official capacity is 590 inmates, it now houses 2,230 prisoners – This prison is run by a private company, who are paid depending on the number of inmates they look after.

Add to the overcrowding, food shortages, and the pervasive threat of violence, a broken truce between two of the main criminal factions of the country, the First Command of the Capital (PCC) and the Red Command (CV) and you have a powder keg waiting to explode.

On the night of the 1.1.17, a riot, which lasted for 17 hours, left at least 60 prisoners dead, many of whom were beheaded and quartered.  Over 300 prisoners also escaped during the unrest.

In November, 2016 in the National Congress, The Joint Commission for Intelligence Control was convened extraordinarily at the request of the Minister of the Office of Institutional Security (GSI) of the Presidency of the Republic, general Sergio Etchegoyen.The federal government will release 1.2 billion reais from the National Penitentiary Fund (Funpen) for investments in the construction of prisons and modernizations of the penal system.  The presidential spokesman, Alexandre Parola, “represents the largest investment ever made in the penitentiary system in Brazil.”

Another 321 million reais will be used in citizenship projects and in the qualification of criminal services. “In this category, it is also contemplated the acquisition of new equipment, such as scanners that will replace the physical searches of the people who visit the prisoners,” Parola told reporters at the Planalto Palace.

He continued, “The release of these resources should allow measures and investments to be put in place as soon as possible, not only to modernize but also to humanize the conditions of the prison system in our country.”


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