The Roraima state prison which saw the massacre of 33 inmates last week also boasts a mini-favela within its walls. Prisoners built the makeshift shacks from tarp, old wood, and styrofoam boxes from the prison cafeteria. And according to the state’s criminal court, the styrofoam favela might just be the best living conditions the prison offers.
Brazil’s prisons face notorious overpopulation, which this prison favela is testament to. The Roraima prison management approved the building of the shacks, and even allowed family members to send additional materials.
According to one Roraima criminal court judge, it’s the government’s responsibility – not the prisoners’ – to address living conditions. The judge, Marcelo Oliveira, visited the prison throughout the year and attested to its “inhumane” conditions. Prisoners eat rotten food and human waste runs in streams above ground.
As for the prison’s styrofoam favela, constructed in the prison’s open area, it’s the only living quarters with proper ventilation. Prisoners have even installed camping cookers over which they can reheat cafeteria food or make their own.
Ongoing prison riots have left parts of the prison in decrepit condition and repairs are still forthcoming, intensifying overcrowding. Indeed, the Roraima state government should finalize a new prison by the end of next year, housing 390 inmates.
However, Oliveira says it’s not about needing another prison. In fact, the judge doesn’t believe the government will be able to swing it. Oliveira instead blames the “subhuman conditions” on a history of bad state government.
Prisoners fear death
Last night, about 15 inmates requested special security for fear of being targets in yet another massacre. The prison administration separated them into a special confinement room. The military police immediately occupied the external area of the prison.
Meanwhile, the state has sent home over 160 “semi-open” regime prisoners to continue their time under house arrest rather than reporting back to the penitentiary center. Roraima governor Suely Campos (PP) has also called on the federal government for backup from the National Guard and an emergency budget of $3.13 million to secure the situation.