Brazil’s prisons massively overcrowded

Brazil’s prisons are massively overcrowded, housing nearly 300,000 more inmates than they have room for, according to a survey published on Friday.

The survey was conducted by the media group Globo, the non-governmental organisation Brazilian Forum of Public Security and the University of Sao Paulo.

The country’s penitentiaries have 708,546 inmates, while they should accommodate no more than 415,960, according to the survey.

More than 35 per cent of the inmates have not yet been sentenced.

With one study indicating that 37 per cent of people in pre-trial custody are not jailed after their trials.

“We can estimate that there are at least 93,000 people unfairly imprisoned in Brazil today,” the Globo website G1 quoted Thandara Santos and David Marques from the Brazilian Forum of Public Security as saying.

Many prisons in Brazil are also controlled by criminal gangs, who use them as basis to organise criminal activity outside.

“Prisons have never – anywhere in the world – been shown to be effective in reducing crime or violence,” said Camila Dias and Rosangela Goncalves from the University of Sao Paulo.

“On the contrary, especially in Brazil over the past three decades, they have shown they have a fundamental role as spaces where crime … is organised, among other things, through a very efficient system of recruiting new members for criminal networks,” they added.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who took power on Jan.1, has announced a crackdown on the country’s powerful crime syndicates.

Brazil has the third-highest number of incarcerated people in the world, behind the U.S. and China, according to the online database, World Prison Brief.



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