Brazil Politics

BREAKING DOWN BRAZIL’S PRISON SYSTEM IN A FEW NUMBERS

Brazil's penitentiary system is on the cusp of a total collapse

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brazil's prison system

Sunday’s deadly prison riot in northern Brazil exposed how inhumane the prison system is. The clash between two drug cartels resulted in the deaths of 56 people. Furthermore, 128 inmates remain at large. For decades, authorities have looked the other way, as did society. But after the second deadliest rebellion in Brazilian history, the federal government promised to build new facilities.

We’ve prepared a few graphics that will help you understand the reality of Brazil’s prison system.

Brazil has a sufficient infrastructure to house 393,842 inmates. However, our prison population is 644,575. Roughly 40 percent of them are people awaiting trial.

The murder rate inside Brazilian prisons is of 58 for every 100,000. This means that if the penitentiary system were a state, it would be Brazil’s most violent. Sergipe, which currently holds this dishonorable title, has a murder rate of 53.3 for every 100,000 people.

Every single Brazilian state houses more prisoners than it should. Among Brazil’s overpacked prisons, Pernambuco tops the list. In several facilities, officers hand-pick a “keyholder” and leave the inmates to discipline themselves.

In addition to overpopulation, prisoners must endure the lack of basic infrastructure. Furthermore, a 2016 inspection by the National Council of Federal Prosecutors found that the vast majority of facilities are unfit.

President Michel Temer and Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes announced measures to curb the crisis. They include the construction of new facilities and devices to prevent inmates from using cell phones from within prisons.

To privatize or not to privatize?

Many Brazilians believe that the state shouldn’t spend money with convicted men and women. The Governor of Amazonas, José Melo, was the first to say that “there were no saints” among the slaughtered inmates.

Yet handing the keys and administration of prison facilities over to private corporations has proven to be a mistake. The Amazonas prison, where the riot took place, is run by a private venture. It didn’t prevent a massacre, and it ultimately cost the state more than it did the federal prisons.