Buenos Aires Times

latin america MASSIVE OVERCROWDING IN CELLS

Prison population in Brazil doubles in a decade

With 726,712 detainees in June 2016, country now has the third-highest prison population in the world after the United States and China, having overtaken Russia.

Wednesday 13 December, 2017
Cellmates wearing Santa caps sit on their bunks during the eighth annual Christmas event at the Nelson Hungria Prison, in Rio de Janeiro.
Cellmates wearing Santa caps sit on their bunks during the eighth annual Christmas event at the Nelson Hungria Prison, in Rio de Janeiro. Foto:AP-Silvia Izquierdo

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Brazil's prison population more than doubled between 2005 and 2016 and cells are now so crowded that there are almost two people for every space, its Justice Ministry has revealed.

With 726,712 detainees in June 2016, Latin America's biggest country now has the third highest prison population in the world after the United States and China, having overtaken Russia.

Cell space, however, has not kept up, providing only 368,049 places, the ministry said in a report. Back in 2005, when the government made its first such report, there were a total of 361,400 people detained.

The ministry said that nearly 94 percent of detainees are men and that 40 percent of those incarcerated have yet to be convicted.

Overcrowding is worst in the state of Amazonas in the north, according to the report, with an occupancy rate of 484.5 percent – nearly five times the planned limit.

In January, an unprecedented wave of violence spread across prisons in the north of Brazil, as rival crime gangs clashed, leaving 140 people dead. In the wake of the chaos, the government promised to build new prisons across the country.

- AFP

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