Brazil prison population triples in 15 years

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sao Paulo, Dec 29 (IANS/EFE) The population of Brazil’s prison system currently stands at 494,237 inmates, or triple the number behind bars 15 years ago, according to official figures.

According to the National Penitentiary Department, or Depen, an agency of the Justice Ministry, the number of inmates was slightly more than 148,000 in 1995.

According to ministry statistics obtained by the official Agencia Brasil news service, 10 years later the number of inmates had soared to 361,402, or 144 percent more, and now there are 494,237 prisoners.

At the same time, the number of prison guards has risen to 60,000.

In order to ease overcrowding in the different state prisons, the Brazilian government launched a system of federal prisons.

According to Depen director Airton Michels, these maximum security jails help combat the current shortage of spaces in state prisons, which is now about 194,000.

Michels believes that the federal penitentiary system reduces the number of riots and internal uprisings, as well as organised crime.

“Since we began operating federal prisons in 2007, we have reduced rioting and uprisings by about 70 percent,” he said.


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