Brazilian officials say more than 50 people lost their lives in a prison riot. According to reports, the riot began with a battle between rival gangs. The battle went on for five hours, leaving parts of the prison without any access for authorities.
The battle began when one gang entered an area controlled by their rivals. The deadly battle took place at the Altamira jail located in the Para state. Officials said during a news conference that some of the dead were killed in the battle. Other prisoners lost their lives when they suffocated during a fire that started after the riot.
The fire spread quickly, leaving many of the prisoners with no way out. Officials said the gang was looking to attack their rivals and not authorities guarding the prison. Two officers were taken hostage during the battle but they were freed shortly after.
Officials Deny It Was Over Capacity
Local media showed videos of smoke coming out of one of the buildings. Other videos said to be from the prison showed prisoners walking on the rooftops. Reports say some of the gang members have been transferred to other prisons.
The prison where the battle took place has a capacity of 200 but reports say there were more prisoners. Officials have denied that the prison was over capacity. A statement from the government revealed that the battle happened between two gangs. The statement added that there had been no warnings or signs that there was going to be an attack inside.
Recent Jail Riots
This is not the first time that a violent battle takes place at a Brazilian prison. In recent years, several incidents have left many prisoners dead. One of the deadliest incidents took place in January 2017, when more than 130 people lost their lives. The deaths happened at several prisons in the country. The riots led to the transfer of many prisoners.
Violence is a big problem in Brazilian jails, with reports saying that there is overcrowding in some of them. Another problem is said to be the lack of resources, with many of the prison guards said to be poorly trained or receiving low salaries. In 2016, Rio police went on a strike shortly before the Olympics over pay and conditions.
Brazil has the world’s third largest prison population, with over 700,000 inmates. That number came from a report in June 2016. The same report revealed that the number of prison beds had not increased at the same rate.
Overcrowding, Prisoners, and Other Statistics
A Human Rights Watch Brazil official said at the time that fitting so much people into the cells facilitates the spread of disease and makes it difficult for guards to keep control. The report from the Ministry of Justice showed that 40 percent of people in Brazilian jails are prisoners who have not been convicted or tried.
The Human Rights Watch official said that some people wait years before they see a judge for a hearing. Nearly 30 percent of the people in prison are in for crimes linked to drug trafficking.