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Beatings, torture and even summary executions are commonplace in the Brazilian penal system, according to this Human Rights Watch report. The 150-page report, Behind Bars in Brazil, says that severe overcrowding and institutionalized violence are chronic and widespread in Brazilian prisons and police stations. In the decade since Human Rights Watch first examined prison conditions in Brazil, the inmate population has increased at a rapid pace. Beside exacerbating prison overcrowding-a problem that Human Rights Watch originally documented during its 1988 mission to the country-the fast growth of the inmate population has coincided with years of flagrant prison abuses. Thus, our first Brazil prisons report was succeeded by a 1989 newsletter that focused on conditions in a notorious São Paulo jail, followed by a 1992 report on a massive prison massacre in São Paulo. Our annual summary of global human rights conditions, moreover, has consistently condemned Brazil for severe prison overcrowding, horrendous conditions of detention, and summary executions of inmates. Human Rights Watch's sustained attention to conditions of confinement in Brazil reflects our sense that the mistreatment of prisoners is one of the country's most serious and chronic human rights violations.

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