Brazil: Where Inmates Hold the Keys

(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 than three times as many inmates as its official capacity in conditions that are dangerous, unhealthy, and violate regional and international standards.

The 31-page report, “The State Let Evil Take Over,” documents how prison authorities have ceded control of detention facilities to the “keyholders,” who sell drugs and sleeping space to fellow detainees, and deploying violent “militias” to enforce their rule, according to former detainees, family members, and two state officials interviewed by Human Rights Watch. 

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