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Vicious Prison Riots in Brazil

 
 
fbaezer
 
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2004 05:20 pm
The photograph was appalling: rioting prisoners throw a headless body from the prison roof.
What's even more appalling is that violent prison riots are almost commonplace in Brazil, at least so it seems.
Most penitentiaries in Latin America have bad or terrible conditions. Riots are not uncommon. But how come Brazil has the most riots and the most vicious ones?
Feedback, specially from Brazilians and people who have lived in Brazil (CDK), will be greatly appreaciated.

The whole story:

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- At least six prisoners have been killed, some hacked to death by fellow convicts using makeshift knives and machetes, in a prison riot in a remote Amazon rainforest state, the prison's director said Monday.

The Urso Branco State Prison, in the Rondonia state capital of Porto Velho, remained under complete control of rioters Monday following the unrest a day ago, prison director Luis Pereira Rodrigues said by telephone.

The riot began when prison administers rejected prisoners' "totally unreasonable demands, such as the right to have prostitutes come into the prison and the right to use drugs," Rodrigues said from the town 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) northwest of Sao Paulo.

The uprising opened the door to revenge killings by leaders of different gangs within the prison, Rodrigues said.

"I can confirm six dead," he said. "At least one victim had his head cut off and tossed to the ground from the prison roof. Another was hacked to death and body parts were thrown to the ground."

Rodrigues said a committee of prisoners was meeting with state officials and representatives of the state bar association in efforts to restore order.

"At the moment, tensions are high, although the violence has stopped." He said "We are hopeful that, by the end of the day today, the prisoners will return control of the prison to state officials."

Rodrigues said overcrowding was a major problem.

"The prison was built for 350 but there are more than 1,000 in here now," he said.
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gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2004 05:28 pm
Quote:
The riot began when prison administers rejected prisoners' "totally unreasonable demands, such as the right to have prostitutes come into the prison and the right to use drugs,"


I guess that's as good a reason as any to start a riot.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2004 05:54 pm
When I get home I'll try to write more about why so many riots in Brazil, but first I wanna say that it seems like they chop off a head each time.

Slight exagerration but that's not the first riot in which they beheaded a prisoner.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2004 07:24 pm
eesh
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2004 07:35 pm
gustavratzenhofer wrote:
Quote:
The riot began when prison administers rejected prisoners' "totally unreasonable demands, such as the right to have prostitutes come into the prison and the right to use drugs,"


I guess that's as good a reason as any to start a riot.


Laughing
After all, I guess you're right, gus.

But I still think it ain't reason enough to behead a comrade
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gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2004 07:43 pm
That's where we're different, you and I, fbaezer. I would certainly be willing to behead a comrade in exchange for a prostitute and a doobie.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2004 04:00 pm
The death toll has risen to 9, according to the police, or 13, according to the rioting inmates. Some new corpses have been displayed.

163 of the prisoners' relatives are still held hostage (to prevent a violent takeover of the facility).

The prisoners have added another demand: "sun baths", and say they will eat 10 of their fellow inmates if their conditions are not met.

....

There are rumors that they also demand that some gustavratzenperson joins them.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2004 04:08 pm
Ah, thanks for bumping the thread.

Brazilian prisons are very corrupt. Very very very corrupt (even by third world standards).

Many of the guards are bought off and in addition to these riots the prisoners "escape" very frequently.

The relatives held hostage are usually not wholly unwilling. Everyone remembers the Carandiru massacre when the police killed 111 prisoners (official number) to quell the rioting.

I'm not sure how the prison conditions compare to other latin american countries. I do know it's bad. Really nasty conditions (things like 20 people in a cell and such).

Kites are used to fly in drugs and cell phones and there's an active underworld within the prisons. There are incredible amounts of contraband of all sorts in the prisons, guns and whatnot.

The conditions reflect an attitude in Brazil that they are sub-human. Heck, if you have a college degree they won't put you with the others (Brazil's way of class discrimination through law).

In these riots the prisoners validate the perception by beheading prisoners and such.

It's a really sad case, and fbaezer has me curious as to why this is different from other latin American countries.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2004 04:15 pm
To give an idea of the degree of corruption and contraband in Brazilian prisons, the last time I was there, 18 prisons scheduled simultaneous riots.

In that episode the prisoner's relatives actually attacked the police at Carandiru to prevent them from entering the prison.

The moves the honest police make to prevent such riots are hard. For example, in that riot the prisoners were demanding the return of prisoners who'd been moved to other prisons for killing other inmates.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2004 04:19 pm
Our prison system sucks too.
It's also corrupt and overcrowded.
If you have money, you get -through bribes- a suite, with TV.
If not, in many places you have to deal with inner mafias, who sell drugs, alcohol and, in some places, weapons.
Every now and then -at least once every two months- some prisoners escape, helped by corrupt guards.
Every now and then -about once a year- a major prison riot breaks. But there seldom are any deaths and we never see such stuff as chopping off the other prisoners' heads.

Perhaps there are levels in infrahuman conditions.
Perhaps here there is a little more concience about elemental human rights.
Perhaps, against my common sense, Brazilian delinquents are more violent than their Mexican counterparts.
I don't know.

BTW, there's a recent feature film about the Carandirú riots. I didn't watch it.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2004 04:30 pm
It's hard to imagine Brazilian criminals as being inherently more violent than their Mexican counterparts.

But the stats you cite are not as far off as I would have imagined.

Maybe the conditions are just a little worse, and the barbarism reflects both this and the memory of Carandiru.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2004 05:13 pm
Interesting - I haven't worked in our system since 1984 - but then, while conditions were far, far better, of course, than those you describe, the corruption was pretty bad.

Like - the prison officers would trigger a riot when they were pissed off about something. Everyone knew it was happening - and they would do stuff like suddenly stop patrolling where we were doing interviews and let a mob of guys build up, totally out of control. It was pretty scary - and the guys (except the "heavies") would be totally terrified too. I remember a day - the day before just such a riot happened - when I got trapped by just such a mob, and decided to walk through them, pretending to have total, serene confidence that they would let me through. They did, but it was a very close thing. We all knew what game was being played. That is where the riot began, but it was a prison officer who was the trapped one that time.

It was odd - cos it was usually a prison officer or two who got hurt - not us (social workers) And the prisoners, of course.


Drugs are endemic, too - the guys say you get better stuff inside than outside.

Of course, it would not be a ghost of what happens in Brazil and Mexico - but "corrections" attracts such a culture - for obvious reasons.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2004 05:23 pm
dlowan wrote:
the prison officers would trigger a riot when they were pissed off about something.


Interesting.
Now I think I'm stupid for not having thought about it.
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InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2004 09:16 pm
There was a news story in the local paper here a few years ago about US citizens being held prisoners in Mexico, in Cereso prison near Ciudad Juárez in the border state of Chihuahua. There are about 44 US citizens being held there for reasons ranging from drugs and gun smuggling to murder. The article spoke of the prison being in many ways more humane than the prisons in the US. It reported that rape is virtually non-existent because consensual visits are allowed with wives and "girlfriends"--prostitutes are allowed in. The prison is set up like a mini-city with the inmates engaged in all manner of activities and occupations. Of course, there's corruption there also. Although much smaller in scale than the one at Urso Branco, and especially Carandirú, there was a riot there about two years ago because the prison administrators cut the supply of drugs there. The erstwhile prison warden was fired and was being investigated for involvement in the drug trafficking at the prison. I don't know what became of that investigation.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2004 09:29 pm
fbaezer wrote:
dlowan wrote:
the prison officers would trigger a riot when they were pissed off about something.


Interesting.
Now I think I'm stupid for not having thought about it.


Not ALL the riots, of course!
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Apr, 2004 12:52 pm
About infrablue's post.

In all Mexican Ceresos (Cereso: Centro de Readaptación Social), which is an average prison, the conyugal visit is a norm. Actually, they are all like secluded cities. Work inside the prison is the norm, as well as sports tournaments.
The High Security Prisons (we got 2 in the country) have no conyugal visit, lights are on all day, they get only one hour "sun time" a day, no work, or access to music, TV or radio, and most inmates live in isolated cells.
On the down side, Ceresos are overcrowded, often filthy, and there is smuggling and violence.
American prisons -at least at the movies- look very clean and spacious, but they depict the visits through looking glasses. Is that the norm?
Here, on sundays, families visit, they bring food, have picnics with the prisoners and perhaps watch the amateur soccer game (all Ceresos teams have the privilege of always playing at "home).
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