Brazil: Poor Conditions Lead to Third Prison Riot in One Week

Iranduba, Brazil—On Sunday, a riot in a jail became the third prison riot in a week in Brazil.  The latest riot resulted in three deaths and has sparked debate over possible human rights violations in the nation’s correctional facilities.

The most recent riot occurred in the jail of a police station in Iranduba, a city in the Amazon.  The prisoners became violent in the early hours Sunday in order to protest the poor living conditions they were subjected to.  The protesters were eventually subdued by police officers, but in the wake of the incident, three prisoners were found dead.  It is unknown how many others were wounded, and whether the deceased were killed by rioters or authorities when they moved in to regain control of the facility.

Brazil’s prisons and jails are frequently overcrowded and can lead prisoners to riot and go on organized hunger strikes.  Sunday’s violence arose after the jail became packed with 40 prisoners.  The jail was designed to hold only eight.
Police officer Geraldo Pereira de Oliveira said that, “After the riot, there were negotiations and the possibility of transferring some prisoners is being studied.”

Sunday’s deadly protest is the third of its kind this week alone in Brazil.  On Wednesday, three prisoners were killed by other prisoners in a similar riot, just 19 miles from Iranduba.  Last Monday, 18 prisoners—four of whom were decapitated–died in a riot in the penitentiary complex in Sao Luis.  A correctional officer was also injured by a gunshot wound.  The riot began when prisoners shot the guard while he was conducting an inspection, then took him and five other guards hostage.  The prisoners announced that they were protesting substandard quality of life in the institution.  The prison is currently inhabited by 4,000 prisoners—double the number that the building was constructed to hold.

In each of the three riots, experts and authorities have determined that overcrowding and unsatisfactory living conditions were the primary impetus for the melee.  In Brazilian prisons, gangs vie for control, their violence unchecked by an inadequate number of correctional officers.


R. Renee Yaworsky
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

November 15th, 2010


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