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NEWS

Short Update: Brazil criticised over treatment of prison population during the pandemic

FairTrialsAdmin - July 15, 2020 - COVID-19 Updates, Prison conditions, Rule of Law

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, observers point out that the government is condemning the incarcerated population to death. Brazil has the world’s third-largest prison population – 773.151 prisoners — and a system in which some facilities operate at 300% over capacity and pronounced gaps in the welfare of detainees predate the pandemic. 

The current scenario in Brazilian prisons can be interpreted as the continuation of President Jair Bolsonaro's campaign platform based in necropolitics, in which the State decides who lives and who dies. In this project, some lives are deemed “disposable.” It is no small detail that that Bolsonaro’s campaign motto was: “A good criminal is a dead criminal”. 

Prisons are also a harsh reflection of Brazil’s social structure. The vast majority of those incarcerated are Black and from low-income neighbourhoods. This is the same demographic that is suffering the harshest consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. 

But within prison walls, the situation is even direr. In May alone, cases of COVID-19 in prisons increased by 800% – up to 2,200 prisoners, according to the Brazilian National Council of Justice. Yet, only 1% of the incarcerated population has been tested. 

Read the Op-Ed here 

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