Hundreds of Prisoners Escape in Brazil and Hold Guards Hostage

Published March 18, 2020

Brazil

Hundreds of prisoners have escaped from prisons in Brazil on March 17 in a revolt against repressive measures taken by the prison administration in reponse to the coronavirus.

The uprising broke out after temporary release for Easter was cancelled, supposedly as a safety precaution. Of course, the the Brazilian state has used the coronavirus as an excuse to clamp down harder on the most oppressed, and prisoners remain endangered with exposure by cramped conditions and the risk of guards spreading the disease.

Prisoners escaped in Tremembé and Mirandópolis and a rebellion took place at a prison in Porto Feliz. In one escape, about 400 prisoners got out of the Centro de Progressão Penitenciária (CPP) Dr Rubens Aleixo Sendin, in Mongaguá, on the coast of São Paulo. Prisoners also took guards hostage there.

The unit has capacity for 1,640 prisoners but was holding 2,796 - almost double capacity.

The judiciary had already implemented restrictions on visits to stop the virus entering the prison, though no precautions have been taken against guards spreading the disease.

On Monday, the Court of Justice of São Paulo decided to suspend hearings considered non-urgent and vetoed public attendance in trials to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Only urgent cases are being heard at the moment.

It is not known how many prisoners are currently on the run.