BRAZILIAN BAR ASSOCIATION SUES GOVERNMENT FOR PRISON RIOTS

The federal court has given the Amazonas government 72 hours to present their excuses for Sunday's prison riots

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The Brazilian bar association (OAB) of Amazonas sued the state for the prison riots which killed 56 and allowed 184 to escape. The OAB is demanding that Governor Jose Melo de Oliveira take emergency measures to enforce criminal and human rights law. Per the federal court decision, Governor Melo has 72 hours to put together a defense.

Furthermore, the federal government reported the state was aware of the escalating threat of prison riots. Riots broke out in four of Amazonas state’s largest prisons on New Year’s day. The Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes has since guaranteed that state police would collaborate with the federal intelligence system to prevent future incidents.

In an interview on national radio Wednesday morning, Governor Melo showed little remorse. Indeed, Melo stated that those who died “were no saints. They were rapists, killers.”

As of Tuesday night, authorities had located less than a third of the escaped prisoners. State police continue to search for over 100 escapees.

Prison Reform

President of the Amazonian OAB Marco Aurelio Choy stated that the lawyers’ association has “long been denouncing the grave problem of the penitentiary system.” Indeed, the New Year’s riots opened up national and international pressure for prison reform, exposing inhumane conditions. According to state numbers, one prisoner is assassinated every day.

OAB President Claudio Lamachia said to the Brazilian press that the national prison system must “invest in the construction of smaller, regionalized prisons, where there’s greater control.” Furthermore, Lamachia pointed to the practice of putting small-time drug offenders in with major criminal leaders. According to Lamachia, these policies turn prisons into “schools of crime.”