President Temer will invest $562 million (1.8 billion BRL) in the prison system in the first fiscal semester of 2017. Days following a series of deadly prison riots, President Temer announced a $62.4 million investment in five new federal prisons. Another $250 million will go towards building at least one new prison per state.
Temer affirmed his hope that new facilities would allow for the separation of inmates by the level of crime committed, age, and gender, as stipulated in the constitutional Law of Penal Execution. Today, the practice of provisory imprisonment has left 42 percent of Brazil’s prison population awaiting trial.
However, the construction of new prisons will only address 0.4 percent of the necessary prison space. In fact, with 644,575 prisoners for 393,842 prison spots, Brazil needs to create facilities for 733 more prisoners. In Amazonas alone, where Sunday’s massacre occurred, an additional 5,438 prisoners overcrowd the prisons. Even totaling all five federal prisons only amounts to a little more than 1,000 additional spots. Finally, the new federal prisons will be reserved for high-risk inmates.
A part of Temer’s National Security Plan, his administration will dedicate $46.8 million to installing cellphone blocks on 30 percent of prisons. Another $25 million will go to general prison security improvements.
While states maintain sovereignty over their own public security, Temer emphasized that their needs exceed current resources. To this end, the federal government announced it will step in where necessary.
The blame game
In Thursday’s speech, Temer blamed the New Year’s massacre on the third-party prison management company, Umanizzare. He affirmed that state agents lacked any “clear responsibility” once the company took over the prison.
The president did, however, make sure to cover his own tracks. He assured the press that the federal Justice Ministry has also stayed informed “from the first day” the private company took over. Ultimately, Temer did his best to avoid any blame for the massacre, which he referred to as an “accident.”
Demanding a show of responsibility, the Amazonas bar association sued the state government for not providing proper protective measures for the inmates. The court gave the governor 72 hours to prepare his defense.