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Why Brazil’s Prisoners Are Rioting

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Brazil has the world’s fourth largest prison population per capita, with roughly half of all inmates still awaiting trial. Overcrowding makes it hard to separate rival factions, who are sent to remote northern states in an attempt to dissolve their gang ties.


The riots are reportedly part of a power struggle between rival drug gangs the First Capital Command (PCC) and the Red Command. Gang members have decapitated and dismembered rivals during the bloodshed.


Many of Brazil’s jails are poorly staffed and equipped, making it impossible to contain a riot. Following the first uprising on Jan. 1, the government promised to modernize prisons and hasten the process of criminal charges.

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