RG. Brazil is made up of 27 federative units (26 states and one federal district), each with their own prison system, with an additional federal prison system.
Some states like São Paulo have about 30% of the country’s prison population, where there are over 250,000 prisoners, against Tocantins with only 4,000 prisoners, the equivalent of two prisons in São Paulo.
In São Paulo, prisons are located in the outskirts, far from the state capital. While in Rio, prisons are located in a large complex within state capital.
Some facilities are managed by the Ministry of Justice and the prison administration, while others are private or under mixed management as part of a private-public partnership (with companies or non-profit organisations). This means that situations and experiences vary widely. Within the prison system, some prisons are officially specialised in the punishment of sentenced inmates, such as the Bagu I prison or the President Bernardi Penitentiary Readaptation Centre. Some other more informal facilities are used for punishing and isolating leaders of criminal factions.
Inmates held under differentiated regimes are mainly incarcerated in federal prisons. They are held in almost total isolation and deprived of most of their basic rights. This treatment is official and practically counters the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
In each of these situations, we observed the implementation of a very specific ‘limitation’ of rights and guarantees, as well as institutional precariousness.
The poor imprisonment conditions can be seen across the country, although it is more or less acute depending on the state. As such, despite the eruption of wars between criminal factions in certain states in particular (such as Amazonas and Rio Grande do Norte), the country’s entire prison system is affected. Indeed, this situation has led to an overhaul of the prison system across all the states, even states not affected by open conflict have had to conform to the change. For example, the distribution of prisoners among states has been reviewed.
The response of the authorities has been characterised by the entrenchment of militarised prison management. The ‘protocol’ implemented during the intervention remains effective even after eradicating FTIP, the local prison administration maintains this set of practices. It has a knock-on effect, even the heads of establishments where no FTIP intervention took place now see these practices held up as ‘best practice’, hence, are led to apply them in their own establishments.