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Unsanitary Cells Prime Condition for Spreading Virus Outside Walls

(New York) – The unsanitary, overcrowded prisons and juvenile detention centers in most Latin American and Caribbean countries offer prime conditions for outbreaks of COVID-19 that could severely affect the health of detainees and of…
Inmates point from inside of La Modelo prison in Bogota, Colombia, Sunday, March 22, 2020.
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Dela Rosa Already Linked to Alleged Crimes Against Humanity

The Philippines’ new Bureau of Corrections Director Ronald Dela Rosa has a killer attitude toward his new job. Literally. Dela Rosa, who retired last month as director general of the Philippine National Police,…
Ronald Dela Rosa talks to President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacanang presidential palace in metro Manila, Philippines, January 19, 2017.
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When a child makes the mistake of breaking a law, the state needs to be especially careful in meting out punishment – out of sheer humanity, and because the chances of rehabilitation are so much higher in someone so young. And indeed…
Children at a “socio-educational” unit in the state of Ceará in October 2016.
News

Investigate and Shutter Unofficial Police Lock-Up Cells

(New York) – The Philippine government should immediately release the alleged drug suspects unlawfully detained in a Manila police station “secret jail,” and ensure their protection after release, Human Right Watch said today. The…
Philippines: Release and Protect “Secret Jail” Detainees PHOTO
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The killing of 33 inmates in the Brazilian state of Roraima is another sign that the country's prisons are disgracefully out of control. Many of the bodies were decapitated, a practice widely used by gangs to terrorize their enemies. …
A relative of a prisoner holds a local newspaper, which shows a headline about a deadly prison riot, in front of Anisio Jobim prison in Manaus, Brazil, on January 3, 2017.
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Ten years ago this week, Brazil passed a law intended to distinguish dangerous drug traffickers from simple drug users. By replacing jail sentences for users of any illegal drug with penalties such as community service, and increasing penalties for drug…
Makeshift “barracos,” or cubicles, inside Pavilion 7 at Presídio Juiz Antônio Luiz L. de Barros (PJALLB), in Recife.
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Summary Killing Fears Prompt Criminal Suspects to Seek ‘Safety’ in Jail

It’s an image straight out of Dante’s “Purgatory”: hundreds of half-naked men sprawled on the pavement in the sweltering heat, desperately trying to sleep amid the cramped chaos. But this is no etching of a medieval horror scene. It’s an actual snapshot…
Inmates sleep on the ground of an open basketball court inside the Quezon City jail at night in Manila, Philippine, July 19, 2016.
News
On Dec. 3, 2010, antidrug police in Muntinlupa City arrested 30-year-old tricycle driver Ronaldo Rivera on drug trafficking charges. During his first court hearing three months later, Rivera said police produced 0.02 grams—equivalent to 10 grains of salt—…
A policeman looks on at prisoners crowded into a detention cell in Manila, Philippines on May 13, 2011.
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Whenever a criminal appeal lands on Judge Kenarik Boujikian´s desk in her São Paulo office, she always checks a basic fact: whether the case involves a detainee who has already finished their sentence but is still incarcerated. In the last year, she has…
Makeshift “barracos,” or cubicles, inside Pavilion 7 at Presídio Juiz Antônio Luiz L. de Barros (PJALLB), in Recife.
News

Legalizing the possession of drugs for personal use would probably help alleviate the country’s chronic prison overcrowding and allow a fresh approach to the problems of drug dependence

For the past decade, Mexico has pursued a “war on drugs” with catastrophic consequences — drug-related violence has taken the lives of tens of thousands of people. Last month, the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled that prohibiting the personal use of…
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‘Clearing Operations’ Target Homeless, Poor, and Street Children

(Manila) – The Philippine government should immediately release the hundreds of mostly indigent and homeless Manila residents, including more than 140 children, detained before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Human Rights Watch said…
These street dwellers in Dakota, a community in Manila not far from the Philippine International Convention Center where the APEC summit will be held, have been told by local authorities to “keep off the streets” for at least a week beginning November 16,
News
The United States is providing early release this weekend for 6,000 inmates who have been serving federal sentences for non-violent drug crimes -- the biggest one-time release of inmates in US history. It's a sign of a tectonic shift occurring in the…
U.S. President Barack Obama and Brazil President Dilma Rousseff depart a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on June 30, 2015.
News
Pernambuco’s prisons have become a haven of private enterprise. Imagine, if you can, what it is like to be imprisoned there. For 2,000 reais (USD530), you could buy a place to sleep, a narrow wooden cubicle where you can throw a mattress and prop a fan.…
Makeshift “barracos,” or cubicles, inside Pavilion 7 at Presídio Juiz Antônio Luiz L. de Barros (PJALLB), in Recife.
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Map of Pernambuco State in Brazil Brazil’s prisons are a human-rights disaster. Detainees—even those who have not been convicted of a crime—are routinely held in overcrowded, violent, and disease-ridden cells.…
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(São Paulo, October 20, 2015) –The Brazilian state of Pernambuco has effectively turned over its vastly overcrowded prisons to hand-picked inmate “keyholders,” Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Pernambuco prison system holds more…
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Among Brazil’s Overpacked Prisons, Pernambuco Tops the List

(São Paulo) – The Brazilian state of Pernambuco has effectively turned over its vastly overcrowded prisons to hand-picked inmate “keyholders,” Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Pernambuco prison system holds more than three times as…
Penitenciária Agro-Industrial São João
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“Custody Hearings” Improve Due Process, Reduce Prison Overcrowding

(São Paulo) – The Constitution, Justice and Citizenship Commission in Brazil’s Senate should approve a bill that would introduce basic due process procedures to prevent arbitrary detention, Human Rights Watch said today. The measure can also reduce prison…
A judge holds a custody hearing for a detainee in São Paulo on May 11, 2015, with the participation of a prosecutor and a public defender.
News
Luiz is one of the adolescents who would be tried as an adult in Brazil if its Congress approves a Constitutional amendment to lower the age of criminal majority. He is 17 and was living on the streets of a city near São Paulo in January when he was…
News

Custody Hearings Help Curb Overcrowding

(São Paulo) – A pilot program in northeastern Brazil is reducing the number of people sent to pretrial detention, a major factor in prison overcrowding and gang recruitment, Human Rights Watch said today. The program in Maranhão state promptly brings…