Brazil's prisons are plagued by overcrowding and violence.
Brazil's prisons are plagued by overcrowding and violence.

Brazil expects more jail massacres

MORE massacres are feared in the Brazilian prison system because of the government's failure to address chronic overcrowding.

Almost 100 prisoners have been slain in riots this year involving rival gangs.

On January 1 and 2, 56 prisoners were killed in a prison in the northern state of Amazonas, with some beheaded and their bodies thrown over the jail wall.

That clash between rival gangs - the Family of the North and Brazil's most powerful criminal organisation, First Command - was reportedly inspired by drug wars outside the prison.

In what has been widely reported as a revenge attack by First Command members, 33 prisoners were killed on January 6 in the neighbouring state of Roraima.

Many of the dead had their hearts and intestines ripped out.

A further 10 inmates were killed in smaller clashes in Amazonas and the north- eastern state of Paraiba between January 2-9.

The government has been criticised by legal and security experts for failing to improve conditions in the country's jails and making it easy for First Command to recruit new members and increase its control across the national prison system.

"The state has lost control over prisons,” Claudio Lamachia, chairman of Brazil's bar association, told Associated Press.

"Death is often the only alternative for an inmate who doesn't want to co-operate with gangs.”

Survival in jail depends on protection and financial help offered to those in the gangs.

An inefficient and overworked legal system means many prisoners wait years for their cases to be heard.

President Michel Temer has announced plans to build five new prisons.



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