The regional government of Rio Grande do Norte declared Tuesday a state of disaster in its prison system and asked for police reinforcements to deal with the growing number of riots that began Wednesday in the jails of this northeastern Brazilian state, officials said.
The Public Safety and Social Defense Secretariat of Rio Grande do Norte said that, due to the state of disaster in the prison system, it has asked for agents of the National Security Force, an elite police corps under the Justice Ministry, to be sent to the prisons of that state.
The organization said on its Twitter account that about 300 agents of the National Security Force are already operating in Rio Grande do Norte and that their first mission was to escort the moving of 89 inmates to another jail.
As a way of isolating the various riot leaders, those inmates were taken from the Provisional Detention Center of Potengi, in Natal, the regional capital, to the municipal jail of Parelhas, 250 kilometers (155 miles) away.
Another uprising occurred before dawn Tuesday at the Pereirao prison in the Caico municipality, which holds some 600 inmates, almost double its capacity of 367.
Brazil’s inmate population numbers some 550,000, about 30 percent more than its total prison capacity.
The Pedrinhas jail is possibly the worst example of the chronic ills of Brazil’s penitentiary system, with its constant overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, riots, attempted jailbreaks, the violence of its prisoners and, in some cases, torture supposedly inflicted by security agents.
Since 2013 some 80 homicides have been committed at the Pedrinhas complex, the last two of which were last week, according to official records. EFE