According to Reuters, prison riots in Brazil have claimed the lives of more than 100 prisoners in the last few days. This article was first published October 20, 2016. It examines the causes of these violent and ongoing uprisings.
Brazil has a problem with prisons. Recent crises have raised concerns about mass incarceration and overcrowding as well as the lawlessness, inhumanity, and lawlessness of Brazil’s prisons. These issues are not new, but they are frequently ignore.
At least 18 prisoners were kill in two separate prison riots that occurred on October 15. Three dozen inmates managed to escape from a Sao Paulo prison in the next day after a riot started there.
This is a shocking, but not unusual event in Brazil. Up to 200 people died in mass prison uprisings that took place inside and outside prisons in May 2006.
A Human Rights Prison Disaster
Brazil is home to the fourth largest prison population in the globe. More than 600,000 people held in prisons that overcrowd and do not respect their basic rights.
The cells are dark and moldy, with no windows. They smell like urine and feces. Dozens of men vie for the same space on the ground. Because the standard menstruation provision is insufficient, some Sao Paulo jails are fill with breadcrumbs.
Brazil’s prison conditions can describe as cruel and inhumane, to put it mildly. Human Rights Watch declared Brazil’s prison conditions a human rights catastrophe.
Brazil is home to excellent legislation that protects prisoners. The 1984 Penal Execution Law outlines in detail the rights of Brazil’s convicts. These include education, payment to labour, health services, and conjugal visits.
Nearly All Of These Rights Are Completely Ignored
The Association for Prison Reform was founded in 2002 by the Center for Studies on Public Security and Citizenship. I was a cofounder and director of this organization. It sought to legal challenge the horrible prison conditions in Rio de Janeiro.
Alvin Bronstein (now deceased) was brought in as a consultant to help us prepare the case. Bronstein, who had been the director of the National Prison Project at the American Civil Liberties Union for over 20 years, had extensive experience litigating for prisoners’ rights.
Bronstein told me that the Penal Execution Law in Brazil described in detail the rights of Brazilian prisoners. He said it would be a cakewalk. Bronstein note that the 8th Amendment, which prohibits cruel or unusual punishment, was use in the United States to win the most difficult cases.
Bronstein didn’t know that Brazil is a country where some laws are able to stick and others don’t. After three years of litigation, Bronstein was inform by a local judge that the law was a program and that the state should follow it only when funds allow.
A piece of federal legislation that is not applicable to the absence of funds is consider nonexistent.
Corruption Is A Real Threat Prison
Another risk is corruption. Prisons that are hugely overcrowd, poorly managed, and underfunded pose a serious threat. In the absence of the government, different gang leaders can seize power and provide services that are not provided by the state to impose their will through force.
Evidence suggests that the Primeiro Comando da Capital was behind the prison riots of October 15, which occurred in the wake of a violent criminal gang from Sao Paulo.