Brazil’s National Justice Council (CNJ) estimates $3.13 billion is necessary to resolve the human rights issue of prison overcrowding. Brazil’s prisons need another 250,000 spots. While the federal government is currently constructing 132 facilities, it’ll take another six years to complete them.
According to the CNJ, overcrowding is the principal problem in Brazil’s prisons. In addition, Brazilian penitentiaries lack sufficient guards. Furthermore, their guards don’t have sufficient training. Prisoners also lack resocialization programs, such as proper educational or job training activities. In fact, only 13 percent of prisoners take part in some sort of study, and only 20 percent work. The mortality rate in prisons is extremely high, with bouts of tuberculosis, scabies, HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis. Resolving the issue of prison overpopulation will also address many of these issues.
Even before last week’s prison riots in Amazonas and Roraima, prison reform was a priority for the Supreme Court Justice Cármen Lúcia. The Justice first visited Brazil’s prisons in October, when the CNJ submitted its report to her. Over the weekend, President Temer visited the Justice at her home to discuss possible next steps for prison reform.
The Justice informed the President of the need for a detailed census of each of Brazil’s prisons. Just the census would cost the federal government about $5.6 million. The census would create a national registry of all prisoners, marking how much time they’ve served and how much time they have left.
President Temer also announced last week the construction of 5 federal prisons and at least one additional prison per state. As bribe schemes siphon money out of public projects, however, Temer has expressed fear over how long construction will actually take. Indeed, Operation Car Wash revealed that bribe schemes totaled $2.5 trillion, more than the national GDP of $1.84 trillion in 2015. With these concerns in mind, Temer is looking to international bids to ensure the finalization of the additional prison units.