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Behind Bars in Brazil

VII. Prisoner-on-Prisoner Abuses


The problem is that everyone is thrown in together; murderers are mixed with chicken thieves.

-Pedro Wilson Guimarães, president of the Human Rights Commission of Brazil's Chamber of Deputies179


Violent recidivists and persons held for first-time petty offenses often share the same cell in Brazil, a situation which, combined with the prisons' harsh conditions, lack of effective supervision, abundance of weapons, and lack of activities, results in prisoner-on-prisoner abuses. In the most dangerous prisons, powerful inmates kill others with impunity, while even in relatively secure prisons extortion and lesser forms of mistreatment are common.

Lack of Classification

Brazil's national prison law includes detailed guidelines requiring prisoners to be classified and separated by sex, criminal history, legal status (i.e., convicted or awaiting trial), and other characteristics, echoing international standards on the subject.180 In practice, however, few of these rules are respected. Women prisoners are separated from men, minors are largely kept out of adult prisons,181 and former police are generally confined away from other prisoners, butin most penal facilities little else is done to separate different categories of prisoners.

Most importantly, little effort is made to separate potentially dangerous prisoners from their more vulnerable fellows. Some states have special high security prisons to hold the most dangerous and escape-prone prisoners, but these hold only a small fraction of the inmate population; otherwise there is no functioning system of prisoner classification by security level-such as maximum, medium, and minimum security-either by prison or within each prison. Prisoners are fairly randomly mixed: cell assignments, for example, tend to dictated by space concerns or decided by the prisoners themselves.

Convicted and unconvicted inmates are freely intermingled. Besides the large number of convicted prisoners confined with unconvicted prisoners in police lockups, discussed previously, there are also numerous unconvicted inmates held with convicted inmates in the prisons.182

Lack of Effective Supervision

The 1995 prison census counted a total of 19,366 custodial personnel working in the country's prisons, for an average of 4.5 inmates per guard.183 At any given moment, however, a surprisingly high proportion of guards are on medical leave or vacation or are otherwise absent from their work. In addition, people nominally hired as guards are in fact assigned administrative tasks in many prisons. Guards are also used as drivers and for escort when prisoners are brought to court or to other outside appointments, further reducing the number of custodial staff on duty within the prisons. Finally, although guards' schedules vary from state to state, guards typically work only one day out of every four.184

The end result is that most prisons have a very limited number of guards responsible for supervising impossibly disproportionate numbers of inmates. At São Paulo's Casa de Detenção, for example, the warden said that he usually has ten to twelve guards on duty per 1,700 prisoners, or about one guard per floor of each cellblock.185 Each guard, therefore, is responsible for monitoring some 140 to 170 prisoners. Guard numbers drop even lower on Mondays-when absenteeism is particularly high-which happens to be the day on which prison violence is most likely to break out.

The worst prison Human Rights Watch visited in terms of inadequate guard supervision was the João Chaves Penitentiary, in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte. Although twenty-four military police officers were assigned to the prison each day, they were divided among the women's annex, the administrative areas, escort services, etc., leaving only three guards responsible for the internal control of the men's prison. Thus, given the inmate population of 646 in December 1997, there were 215 inmates per guard. Moreover, the three guards remained stationed at a table near the entrance of the prison. During a day at the facility, we rarely saw them get up from the table to monitor the situation of the inmate population.

Most other prisons had serious shortages of custodial staff, if not at the levels described above. The State Penitentiary of Campina Grande, in Paraíba, had about ninety-three inmates for each on-duty guard; Roger prison, in João Pessoa, Paraíba, had about sixty-two inmates per guard, and the Porto Alegre Central Prison, in Rio Grande do Sul, had about sixty inmates per guard, to cite a few examples. At Brasília's main prison, which had about sixty-one inmates for each on-duty guard, the warden told us that he needed triple this number to "satisfactorily" handle the prison population.186 The warden of São Paulo's State Penitentiary noted that even though the inmate population had grown significantly over the last decade, guard numbers had remained stable.187 Besides a few women's prisons, which tended to have higher proportional staff numbers, the only prison in which Human Rights Watch encountered somewhat reasonable proportions of inmates and guards was the Nelson Hungria Penitentiary in Nova Contagem, Minas Gerais, where about fifty guards supervised 683 inmates (for about fourteen inmates per guard).

Prison-to-guard ratios in the police lockups Human Rights Watch visited were equally grim. Most lockups had only one guard on duty at a time. This single guard, moreover, was normally stationed outside of the lockup itself and would rarely venture inside to monitor the prisoners' well-being. In some facilities, such as São Paulo's third police precinct, we found a heavy metal door separating the lockup area from the rest of the precinct, which precluded visual surveillance and muffled sound. At the Depatri police facility in São Paulo, not only were guards stationed at a distance from the prisoners, but there are only two guards per shift to monitor some 350 inmates.

Paradoxically, the low staffing levels of Brazil's penal facilities, rather than compelling each guard to be more vigilant, encourages guards to neglect their duties even more. Being so outnumbered, guards are more at risk when they are in contact with prisoners. Given the shocking number of inmate riots and hostage-taking episodes over the last few years, it is no surprise that many guards prefer not to do rounds within the prison but instead, as much as possible, to remain at a safe distance. At Porto Alegre's Central Prison, for example, prisoners asserted that guards almost never enter the prisoners' living areas (galerias); indeed, that "the guards can't enter" these areas while the prisoners are inside.188 Killings of guards, while infrequent, are not unheard of. At the Hortolandia House of Detention in June 1995, in a particularly brutal incident, rioting prisoners killed two guards and the prison warden.189

Guard corruption is a final contributing factor to this dangerous mixture. Prisoners pay guards to allow them to bend the rules, including smuggling in weapons and visiting areas of the prison they would otherwise be barred from, in some instances, to take revenge on their enemies there. As a prisoner at the Manaus men's prison put it, "Give a guard 30 reais and he won't care what you do; he'll give you the key to someone else's cell."190 The head of a São Paulo police facility stated bluntly:

I have only a few jailers, and most of them are corrupt. I'm trying to get rid of the worst two, but it's hard to prove corruption. These guys, they make 300-400 reais [approximately U.S. $ 265-355] a month. Prisonersoffer them huge amounts of money to bring in electric drills. I have prisoners who inform for me; I found out that cell four is trying to buy a set of tools for $2,000. I'm trying to implement a new policy requiring that jailers be searched when they enter. The metal detector doesn't work . . . . So far we haven't found guns, but we've found knives. Prisoners even manage to have pizza delivered from the pizzerias of their choice.191

The end result of low guard numbers and lax surveillance is a power vacuum. Unsupervised and undisciplined, prisoners in Brazil are left to govern themselves. With the meager guard presence in many prisons, there is very little to prevent tougher, stronger, richer and more well-connected inmates from threatening, intimidating and sometimes violently abusing their more vulnerable fellows.

Availability of Weapons

Weapons, particularly homemade knives and stilettos, are plentiful in the prisons. The wardens of several facilities showed us weapons they had confiscated during searches: pieces of sharpened steel with wrapped fabric handles, sharpened steak knives, and other dangerous instruments. Prisoners in a number of facilities told Human Rights Watch that "everyone" had weapons.

Prison authorities conduct regular searches of the prisons, but these are inadequate to cope with inmates' ingenuity in making and smuggling in weapons. To cite an example suggesting the extent of the problem, a one-day search at São Paulo's Casa de Detenção turned up 250 knives.192

Gangs and the Prison Hierarchy

Much prison violence is related to gang conflicts, which, in turn, are often the result of competition to control the prison drug trade. The director of the State Penitentiary of Jacuí, in Rio Grande do Sul, told us that a violent 1992 "war" between the manos and the abertos, two prison gangs, had forced state authoritiesto inaugurate a new high-security punishment facility prematurely.193 More recently, in May 1998, a huge gang clash at the Professor Barreto Campelo prison in Pernambuco left at least twenty-two inmates dead.194

In some prisons, dangerous rivalries between different cellblocks or prison wings erupt. At Porto Alegre's overcrowded Central Prison, for example, prisoners in the second floor of pavilion B tried to "take over" the third floor in early 1997, violently invading it. Human Rights Watch interviewed one of the inmates from the third floor who was taken hostage during this assault: "I was grabbed from behind and dragged downstairs. Then they tied my hands and feet together and beat me with sticks."195 The other inmates threatened to roll him up in a foam mattress and set it afire if the military police tried to free him. He has visible scars from the episode.

Prisoners spoke of the "prefecture," the "leadership," or the "sheriffs" of their facilities, acknowledging the status of the most powerful inmates in formal terms. At the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, we heard that members of the prefecture control the drug trade-which was booming-live in the best cells, and get the few available jobs, thus gaining sentence reductions. At the Manaus men's prison, such leaders are said to number nearly fifty in an inmate population of over 500; they control the sale of narcotics; they also order other prisoners beaten.

Gay Prisoners

Gay and transsexual prisoners face particular hardships, as discrimination against them is intensified in the hierarchical society of the men's prisons. A number of gay and transsexual prisoners are confined in São Paulo's Casa de Detenção, most of them in a group of cells in pavilion five.196 A despised minorityin the prison system, they have no choice but to govern their behavior in accordance with a set of unwritten "laws" established by other inmates. On visiting days, for example, they have to remain in their cells all day; they cannot show themselves for fear of upsetting the visitors. If they have visitors themselves, they can go out only if they thoroughly cover themselves up. Each prison, and each pavilion in the Casa de Detenção, has somewhat different rules for homosexuals, but they are all similarly degrading and discriminatory.

One gay prisoner told us:

They say we have no dignity, no honor, and no rights. They're proud to be men, bandits; they're tough . . . . They see us as objects to be used. If there's a rebellion, we're the ones who suffer. The guards here have no control over the situation inside.197

Most gay prisoners survive by washing other prisoners' clothing and doing other types of "women's work," including prostitution. The gays and transvestites who live in their own section have a certain degree of independence; those who arrive without friends there face greater difficulties. Gay prisoners who end up living in another section ("with the men," as they put it), will have to work for the other prisoners like a slave. "She becomes a sex slave as well," one gay inmate added, explaining:

We serve two sentences here: the one imposed by the judge, and the one imposed by the prisoners. We have no value to them. Nobody pays any attention to the word of a homosexual. They let us talk to them only up to a certain point. None of them would ever drink out of my cup.198

Prisoner-on-Prisoner Violence

Given this conjunction of causal factors, it is easy to understand why eruptions of prisoner-on-prisoner violence are frequent in Brazil's penal facilities. Examples from recent years include the following: inmates who wanted to end an early 1998 rebellion at the São José prison in Belém do Pará, in the Amazon region, killed three of the rebellion's leaders, throwing two of them off a high prison wall to their deaths; seven prisoners were killed in Rio de Janeiro policelockups during a two-week period in July 1997, the result of gang rivalries; a group of prisoners at São Paulo's Casa de Detenção broke into another inmate's cell and stabbed him to death in May 1997; in the first three months of 1997, four prisoners were killed in the severely overcrowded Vila Branca public jail, in São Paulo, one of the prisoners having been stabbed forty times; a gang clash at the Sorocaba public jail in February 1997 left three prisoners dead.199

At São Paulo's Casa de Detençao, about ten inmates die each year as a result of knife wounds, according to the inmate nurses who normally treat such injuries.200 Indeed, one inmate was killed in March 1997 within fifteen minutes of arriving at the facility; he was stabbed to death while still in a holding cell. An inmate nurse explained how violence frequently occurs:

Most stabbings happen on Monday; it's collection day. After the visits on Sundays, people who are owed money come to collect. When the guys who owe don't have the money, fights start.201

At Porto Alegre's Central Prison, one of the more dangerous facilities Human Rights Watch inspected, one inmate told us:

In three years I've seen six people die violently; most of them owed money. One guy, in 1996, they injected ten grams of cocaine in him; when he didn't die quickly of that they hanged him.202

Officials there said that three inmates had died violently in the past year, all of them hanged by other prisoners. Manaus prison inmates told Human Rights Watch that four prisoners were killed in 1997, one hanged by others and three stabbed. "When you talk too much, you die; that's the law here," asserted one inmate.203

The national prison census of 1994 reported a total of 131 prisoner-on-prisoner homicides and forty-five suicides (as the above descriptions suggest, some of the "suicides" may actually have been coerced).204 While these statistics are not nearly as shocking as those of certain other Latin American countries, they still indicate that prison authorities need to take steps to prevent prison violence. Human Rights Watch's research suggests, in addition, that recent prisoner-on-prisoner homicide numbers are substantially higher (or that the 1994 numbers were flawed by underreporting).205 Unfortunately, the 1995 prison census failed to provide any statistical information on prison violence.

Extortion and the Prison Real Estate Market

Inmates in some facilities-usually the most overcrowded ones-have to pay other inmates for the use of a cell. At São Paulo's Casa de Detenção, for example, inmates pay from 180 to 800 reais (approximately U.S. $160 to $711) to share a cell, depending on its quality and location. Some powerful prisoners there "own," or control, ten or more cells. At the Campina Grande State Prison in Paraíba, inmates must make a one-time payment of about one hundred reais (approximately U.S. $89) to use a cell. Prisoners who cannot afford this payment sleep in the corridors. At the Natal prison, it reportedly costs nothing to live in a dormitory, but inmates must pay one hundred to 120 reais to share an individual cell. Prisoners often pay each other in packs of cigarettes, known as maços.

Weaker or less powerful prisoners often have to pay other inmates for other "privileges" as well. Their belongings are frequently taken from them.

Isolation Cells and Prisoners Sworn to Death

Every prison Human Rights Watch visited, except some of the women's facilities, had holding or isolation cells, usually located near the front of the prison close to guard supervision. Sometimes these cells held incoming prisoners, but more often they held prisoners who, for one reason or another, feared injury at the hands of others. Such prisoners are often described as "sworn to death" (jurados de morte) or "security" (seguro) prisoners.

São Paulo's Casa de Detenção has two main isolation areas-one on the fifth floor of the sixth pavilion, the other, much larger area on the fifth floor of the fifth pavilion-both of which had the worst conditions in the prison. Prisoners are held in these areas after requesting "preventive security" (medida preventiva de segurança) status. In fear of other prisoners, they are all awaiting transfer to other prisons, which may be granted after three, six, or eight months, or longer. As one such prisoner explained: "I've got an enemy. If I go back to my cell, either he'll have to kill me or I'll have to kill him. I prefer to get out of here."206 Other prisoners had no money to pay for a cell. In all, out of an inmate population of about 6,500, about 330 inmates-5 percent of all prisoners-were in this situation when Human Rights Watch visited.

Human Rights Watch interviewed six prisoners held in an isolation cell at João Pessoa's Maximum Security Prison who were all in evident fear for their lives; indeed, some of them were clearly terrified. They explained a complicated murder plot involving marijuana laced with poison, which they claimed was erroneously blamed on them. The intended victim of the failed murder attempt was the so-called "head" of the prison, an inmate who reportedly planned to retaliate by having them all killed. "We could die at any moment," one of the group said, his voice trembling. "They've been threatening us; they've tried three times to get to our cell. I don't sleep any more."207 Illustrating the reasonableness of his fears, he said that three knife fights had occurred in the past month, each ending in serious injury. Another member of the group said a prisoner there was stabbed to death six months previously.

In prison riots, when other inmates obtain control of a facility, such prisoners are frequently taken hostage, tortured, and even killed.208 Human RightsWatch spoke with eight security prisoners at the Riberão Pires public jail, in São Paulo, who were taken hostage during a riot about two weeks before our visit. Other prisoners tied them to gas canisters and threatened them with knives, cutting one inmate. During an earlier incident there, in February 1997, rioting prisoners poured boiling water over a security prisoner who had previously notified the authorities of an escape attempt.209

The João Chaves Penitentiary:
Case Study of a Violent Prison

Although Human Rights Watch visited a number of violent prisons during our mission to Brazil, we were particularly troubled by the situation of the João Chaves Penitentiary in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte. According to Col. Sebastião Saraiva, the prison warden, ten prisoners at João Chaves met violent deaths between March 1997 and early February 1998.210 Both times that Human Rights Watch visited the facility, we found its atmosphere to be extremely grim: a number of prisoners Human Rights Watch interviewed clearly believed that their lives were at risk.

Prisoners told Human Rights Watch that, in several instances, authorities were indifferent to death threats received by prisoners who were later killed. Some prisoners said that prison authorities encouraged certain prisoners to kill others in exchange for unauthorized leave or other irregular benefits. Although prison officials and state authorities vehemently denied these accusations, Human Rights Watch was able to document two extremely disturbing cases that suggest, at minimum, official indifference to inmate killings. In both cases, the prisoners whose lives were threatened were not afforded transfers or any other sort of protection after they informed the authorities of the risks they faced and were killed by other inmates shortly after reporting the threats they had received.

According to records from the twelfth police precinct in Natal, police inquiries were conducted to investigate the deaths of ten inmates at João Chaves between March 1997 and January 1998. The table below reproduces the twelfth precinct's record of completed inquiries, provided to Human Rights Watch by precinct chief Fábio Rogério Silva:

Inquiry Number

Date of filing

Name of Victim

Name of suspect(s)



Francisco Luiz da Silva Junior

Gutemberg Bezerra da Silva



Gutemberg Bezerra da Silva

Marinaldo Soares;

José Costa Patrício



Marinaldo Soares

José Costa Patrício



Rosanea da Silva de Oliveira

Elissandra Ferreira da Silva; Almir Queiroz da Silva



Francisco Canindé Bezerra dos Santos

João Maria Segundo do Nascimento



Djerson Andrade de Almeida

Jailton Bastos de Souza



João Maria Segundo do Nascimento

José Barbosa de Souza



Mário Sérgio Ribeiro dos Santos

João Maria Vicente de Souza



Antonio Rodrigues da Costa

João Batista da Silva



José Francisco Cerqueira

Francisco de Assis Dantas

The death of Francisco Canindé Bezerra dos Santos

On August 27, 1997, Francisco Canindé Bezerra dos Santos was placed in a punishment cell. Shortly afterwards, Bezerra dos Santos was transferred to the cafua, a decrepit area also used for punishment.211 On August 28, Francisca Bezerra dos Santos, his sister, received an anonymous telephone call from the João Chaves Penitentiary, informing her that she should go to the Santa Catarina Hospital because her brother had been taken there after being severely beaten. Records from the Santa Catarina Hospital confirm that he was treated on an out-patient basis on August 28, 1997.212 Francisca first asked her sister-in-law, Vera Neide Gonzaga da Silva, to go to the hospital and later went herself. Both women saw Bezerra dos Santos, accompanied by police officers. According to their statement, he was bleeding from the nose and had bandages on his head.

The two women proceeded to the João Chaves Penitentiary, where they met with the warden. Bezerra dos Santos's sister told the Human Rights Division of the State Prosecutor's Office that she asked the warden to remove her brother from the punishment area, but that he refused, insisting that Bezerra dos Santos remain there for thirty days.

The following day, she went to the Human Rights Division of the State Prosecutor's Office and met with Prosecutor Fernando Batista de Vasconcelos. Based on the information that she presented, Vasconcelos prepared three letters to relevant authorities requesting that immediate measures be taken. One letter was addressed to Sebastião Saraiva, the prison warden, one to the judge with oversight authority for the João Chaves Penitentiary, Dr. Manoel dos Santos, and one to the judge from Bezerra dos Santos's home district. After submitting the first letter to Judge dos Santos, Bezerra dos Santos's sister proceeded to the prison, where she arrived at about 1:10 p.m. At 2:00 p.m., Saraiva met with her and received the letter, stamping and signing it with the date of receipt: August 29, 1997. The letter included a copy of the statement of Vera Neide Gonzaga detailing the physical abuse and seclusion in a punishment cell to which Bezerra dos Santos had been subjected. The letter requested that warden Saraiva have him taken to the Officeof the State Medical Examiner so that an examination could be performed to determine whether he had been subjected to abuse or torture, that necessary medical care be given to him, and that Saraiva order the opening of a police inquiry to investigate the allegations of physical abuse he had suffered.213

The two women remained at the prison until 3:30 p.m., but were not allowed to see Bezerra dos Santos. After returning home that evening, the two women learned that he had been killed that same day-August 29-by other prisoners at the João Chaves Penitentiary. According to Prosecutor Vasconcelos, Bezerra dos Santos had made public complaints about police involvement in drug trafficking within the João Chaves Penitentiary. This, according to Prosecutor Vasconcelos, provoked the decision of the prison officials to place him in the cafua and then, at a minimum, to fail to take measures to protect his life within the main detention area of the prison.

Although the police inquiry into Francisco Canindé Bezerra dos Santos' death was concluded on November 26, 1997, the official investigation has not looked into warden Saraiva's role in the crime as of this writing.

The death of Djerson Andrade de Almeida

At about 10:00 p.m. on September 28, 1997, during a routine search of the interior of the João Chaves Penitentiary, prison staff (military police officers) found an industrially produced bomb (TNT-3 type produced by Embel).214 Shortly afterwards, according to the local media, prison authorities interrogated seventy-one prisoners to determine who was responsible for the entry of the bomb into the prison. As part of these interrogations, a number of prisoners were held in the cafua.215

Authorities singled out a group of at least six prisoners, apparently believed to be responsible for the entry of the bomb, and held them in the cafua. The relatives of these detainees registered complaints with the Center for Human Rights and Popular Memory (Centro de Direitos Humanos e Memória Popular) inNatal. The center, by letter of October 3, 1997, informed a prosecutor, Fernando Vasconcelos, of the detention and torture of six prisoners in the cafua.216 The six prisoners listed in the letter were: Djerson Andrade de Almeida, José Roberto Lopes Cunha, Lindemberg da Fé, Marcelo Santos da Silva, Eduardo Anunciação Ribeiro da Silva, and João da Silva Oliveira. On that same day, October 3, prosecutor Vasconcelos requested by letter sent to the prison warden, Sebastião Saraiva, that the physical integrity and the lives of the prisoners be guaranteed and that the six men be sent to the Office of the State Medical Examiner so that examinations could be performed on all of them. Vasconcelos sent a copy of this letter, along with a cover letter explaining the gravity of the situation, to Carlos Eduardo Alves, the secretary of justice of Rio Grande do Norte.

Later that day, on the advice of prosecutor Vasconcelos, the prisoners' relatives went to the offices of the Diário de Natal, one of the city's leading dailies, to inform the paper of the imminent risk faced by their family members. According to the Diário de Natal, relatives of the six prisoners and of a prisoner known only by the nickname "Cabeludo" told the paper that these men were being held naked in the cafua where they were subject to beatings and torture to force them to confess to their participation in an escape attempt involving the bomb found the previous Sunday.217

Reporters from the Diário de Natal went to the João Chaves Pentitentiary and requested permission to meet with the prisoners held in the cafua but were denied access by warden Saraiva. Instead, he presented other prisoners, who told the journalists that they were unaware of any cases of torture committed at the prison.

Andrade de Almeida's father, Paulo Luiz de Almeida, in a signed statement given to the State Prosecutor's Office, recounted that on October 2, through the assistance of attorney José Humberto Dutra de Almeida, his son was removed from the cafua and returned to the main part of the prison. However, he was taken from the area in which those awaiting trial were held to an area which houses those already convicted. According to Paulo Luiz de Almeida, on October 3, his son sent a note to him in which he asked for one hundred reais (approximately U.S. $89) to pay for a space to sleep in the area to which he had been transferred. The following day at about 11:00 a.m., the elder Almeida wentto the João Chaves Penitentiary and was informed that his son had been tortured and killed by other inmates.218

As in the case of Francisco Canindé Bezerra dos Santos, although the police inquiry into Djerson Andrade de Almeida's death was completed on December 31, 1997, a thorough investigation into the warden's responsibility has not been conducted as of this writing.

179 Human Rights Watch interview, Brasília, December 18, 1997.

180 Lei de Execução Penal, arts. 5, 82, 83, and 84; Standard Minimum Rules, art. 8.

181 Human Rights Watch encountered minors in two adult prisons, but they were held there because of fairly exceptional circumstances. At the High Security Prison of Charqueadas, in Rio Grande do Sul, six minors were being temporarily held in a holding area in early December 1997, along with four other inmates under age twenty-one. The group had been recently transferred from a youth detention center that had been damaged in an inmate riot. The area where they were held was separate from the main part of the prison and they had no contact with adult prisoners; however, they also had no place to exercise or get sun. In the Manaus prison, in Amazonas, we met a sixteen-year-old prisoner who had spent several days in a holding area at the front of the prison because he was arrested carrying identity papers showing a false age. He was sharing a cell with several adults.

182 The 1994 prison census, for example, noted that 14.46 percent of prison inmates were unconvicted (and that the legal status of another 4.6 percent was not known). 1994 Prison Census, pp. 16-17.

183 1995 Prison Census, table XIX, p. 43. Similarly, in mid-1997, the São Paulo prison authorities announced that the state had approximately 8,000 guards for 34,675 inmates, or 4.3 inmates per guard. Rodrigo Vergara, "Número de presos em SP cresce 8% em 96," Folha de S. Paulo, May 13, 1997.

184 In most states Human Rights Watch visited, guards work twenty-four-hour shifts and then have seventy-two hours' rest. In some states, guards work twelve-hour shifts, followed by either thirty-six or seventy-two hours off.

185 Human Rights Watch interview, São Paulo, November 28, 1997.

186 Human Rights Watch interview, Francisco da Silva Viera, director, Centro de Internamento e Reeducação, Complexo Penitenciário, Brasília, December 18, 1997.

187 Human Rights Watch interview, São Paulo, November 27, 1997.

188 Human Rights Watch interview, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, December 4, 1997.

189 "Rebelião termina com seis mortes," Folha de S. Paulo, June 22, 1995.

190 Human Rights Watch interview, Penitenciária Desembargador Raimundo Vidal Pessoa, Manaus, Amazonas, December 16, 1997.

191 Human Rights Watch interview, Carlos César Rodrigues, commander, Depatri, São Paulo, November 24, 1998.

192 "Revista na Detenção acha 250 estiletes," Folha de S. Paulo, March 7, 1997.

193 Human Rights Watch interview, Capt. Pacheco, Charqueadas, Rio Grande do Sul, December 3, 1997.

194 "22 Inmates Dead in Brazil after Fight between Gangs," Seattle Times, May 31, 1998

195 Human Rights Watch interview, inmate, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, December 4, 1997.

196 There were said to be some thirty-three openly gay or transsexual inmates. Some of them had adopted stereotypically "feminine" attributes (such as hair ribbons and plucked eyebrows); some were obviously taking hormones and had developed large breasts, but even the more stereotypically "masculine" gay prisoners referred to each other as "she."

197 Human Rights Watch interview, São Paulo, January 5, 1998.

198 Ibid.

199 "4 Prisoners Die in Brazil Rebellion," Associated Press, March 1, 1998; Fernanda da Escóssia, "Fuga de cadeia mata 1 e fere 3," Folha de S. Paulo, July 19, 1997; "Presidiários fazem 2 reféns e matam detento no Carandiru," Folha de S. Paulo, May 30, 1997; Vagner Magalhães, "Cadeia superlotada transfere presos," Folha de S. Paulo, March 26, 1997; "Briga entre presos deixa três mortos," Folha de S. Paulo, February 10, 1997.

200 Human Rights Watch interview, Casa de Detenção, São Paulo, November 28, 1997.

201 Ibid.

202 Human Rights Watch interview, inmate, Presidio Central de Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, December 1, 1997.

203 Human Rights Watch interview, Manaus, Amazonas, December 16, 1997.

204 1994 Prison Census, p. 55.

205 Nearly every men's prison visited by Human Rights Watch reported at least one such killing within the previous year; some reported several killings. (The only exception was the Charqueadas high security prison, where prisoners are held in individual cells and their movements are strictly controlled.) Since Brazil has over 500 prisons, these numbers suggest that there are well over 500 inmate killings each year.

206 Human Rights Watch interview, São Paulo, January 5, 1998.

207 Human Rights Watch interview, João Pessoa, Paraíba, December 10, 1997.

208 See, for example, "Acaba rebelião de 42 horas," Folha de S. Paulo, May 14, 1997 (rebellion in which twenty-five security prisoners were taken hostage, two of them killed); Fausto Siqueira, "Rebelião mata 4 e fere 9 na Praia Grande," Folha de S. Paulo,November 4, 1996 (rebellion in which four security prisoners were killed).

209 Human Rights Watch interviews, inmates, São Paulo, November 22, 1997.

210 The seven inmates killed by police in the aftermath of a February 1998 escape attempt, described below, are not counted in this figure; when they are included, the number of prisoners killed in the one-year period totals seventeen.

211 The cafua consists of four cells, three of which measure roughly six feet by ten feet. None of the three smaller cells have direct access to natural light, nor do they have any sanitary facilities. (See discussion below.)

212 Hospital Santa Catarina, patient treatment record no. 145.038/97 (attached to letter no. 096/97-SEC, from Dr. Sebastião Paulino da Costa, director, Hospital Santa Catarina, to Francisco Batista de Vasconcelos, human rights prosecutor, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, November 11, 1998).

213 Letter No. 016/97 Human Rights Division, State Prosecutor's Office, from Prosecutor Francisco Batista de Vasoncelos to Col. Sebastião Saraiva, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, August 29, 1997.

214 "Encontrada uma Bomba na Penitenciária," Diário de Natal, September 30, 1997.

215 As noted above, Human Rights Watch visited the cafua during its December 1997 visit to João Chaves and documented its appalling physical conditions.

216 Prison warden Sebastião Saraiva told the Diário de Natal that eight prisoners, under investigation for their role in planning an escape, were being held in the cafua. "Diretor Nega Tortura e Diz Tratar Bem os Presos," Diário de Natal, October 4, 1997.

217 Ibid.

218 Statement of Paulo Luiz de Almeida to the State Prosecutor's Office, 27th District of Natal, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, October 14, 1997.

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