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Torture and restriction of water and food are common in prisons in Brazil

Reports point to the generalization of precarious infrastructure and the spread of diseases; states claim to repudiate violence in the penitentiary centers

The Brazilian prison system is a scene of a proliferation of cases of torture of prisoners and other violations of fundamental rights, according to entities monitoring conditions throughout the country. The violent actions of agents would be aggravated by the maintenance of precarious infrastructures, with the spread of diseases and restrictions on access to water and food. The problems are recurrent in all regions of the country. The guarantee of health care is also neglected, according to reports. When contacted, states said they repudiate violence within the units.

“I don’t know why, but several prisoners were attacked, shot. I have asthma and passed out. Even so, I was beaten unconscious, they hit me in the nose, and dragged me along the floor. When I came to, I was bleeding and all bruised, I was very humiliated, my physical and moral integrity was completely shaken,” says an excerpt from a letter written in 2023 by inmate Alan Santos and sent to the Public Defender’s Office of Paraná.

According to the expert Bárbara Suelen Coloniese, who was responsible for reports from the National Mechanism for the Prevention and Combating of Torture, physical assaults are common but not the only forms of torture in the prison system. “Overcrowded cells have become a people’s warehouse because there is no health care, education, work, often no hygiene kit. It’s an environment that serves no purpose other than massacre,” she said.

Scholars of the subject are unequivocal in their assessment that prison conditions strengthen organized crime. It was in contexts of abuse that factions such as the Red Command and the PCC (First Capital Command) emerged—as Folha revealed, the country’s prisons are experiencing the expansion of these groups and already coexist, in total, with 70 factions. In addition to cases of violence, as reported by inmate Alan Santos, documents from the Public Defender’s Office of Paraná show that in the Cascavel penitentiary, the water designated for consumption and laundry comes from a hose directed to the toilet seat.

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