Brazilian prison riot kills seven
In a protest against inmate transfers to another prison, prisoners
at the Jundai Jail in Sao Paolo state broke into a riot on Wednesday,
taking police and prison guards hostage, and starting fires that
eventually suffocated seven people to death within the walls. The
rioting allegedly broke out after guards found an escape tunnell
dug by inmates
This was the sixth riot in the entire state that week. The Jundai
prison, like most prisons in Sao Paolo, is overcrowded. With a 120
inmate capacity serving 470, riots against prison conditions and
poor supervision and security measures, while not excusable, are
understandable. Rioters demanded that the population of the prison
On Thursday rioters surrendered after releasing 3 hostages, but
there was no word on whether their demands were met.
It is well known that Brazilian prisons are rife with diseases,
especially tuberculosis, Hepatitis C, and HIV. In 2004 a prison
riot in Brazil's Urso Branco jail, sparked by rival gang violence
and protests against poor living conditions, left 9 people dead.
One victim was decapitated and his head was thrown off the prion's
roof into the yard, while another inmate was hacked to death and
distributed in pieces throughout the prison. In a gross display
of negligence and disregard for minimum standards of protection,
the Urso Branco Jail was housing over 1300 inmates in a capacity
of only 350.
In 1985, so-called "Death-lottery"
killings became popular in Brazilian prisons. The death-lottery
involves drawing random lots of inmates from the prison population,
and then selecting one to be murdered, usually by hanging or strangling,
as a public form of protest against squalid prison conditions. Frequently,
rapists and sexual offenders are the targets of such slayings. In
1990, Marcelo di Pietro, 27, a convicted rapist and murderer, was
the unfortunate strangling victim of one such lottery in Santo Andre
industrial centre; ironically, he had been living in a 6-person
cell with 46 other inmates. The Santa Andre jail itself was housing
over 365 inmates in a capacity of only 96. At the time, Brazil's
total prison population was hovering above 87,000, with a total
national capacity of 41,000.
Violence, torture, beatings, inmate assaults, inmate rapes, overcrowding,
foul food, lack of medical care, and structural delays have all
been cited in Brazil's prison system. but especially Sao Paulo state,
where death-lottery killings are not limited to one prison, but
could happen at any one at any time.
In 1985, a further 13 inmates were murdered in a death-lottery
in a Belo Horizonte jail. Many prisoners at the jail are in constant
fear for their lives, sleeping only two or three hours a night.