47 percent of inmates have Covid-19 in São Paulo prison

prison inmates
Photo: Daniel Arroyo/Ponte

São Paulo’s Provisory Detention Center II was built to house 793 inmates but is currently operating with a prison population of over 1,600 as of last Monday, according to São Paulo penitentiary authorities. The overcrowded prison is not only a clear human rights violation, it has also served to be a breeding ground for Covid-19. The Public Defender’s Office says at least 752 prisoners are infected, meaning 47 percent of all inmates have the coronavirus. 

Official numbers say that 3,986 prisoners out of 221,060 have tested positive for Covid-19 in São Paulo’s penitentiaries since February and at least 20 prisoners have died from the virus. In May, The Brazilian Report showed how Brazil’s overcrowded prison system is severely at risk from the coronavirus. In that month alone, cases jumped from 243 to 1,062 in just 21 days in prisons, according to a report from the National Justice Council. 

The dangers posed by the virus in prisons are not exclusive to Brazil: in the Paraguayan border city of Ciudad del Este, near Iguazu Falls, one local prison registered 100 Covid-19 cases. The city went on to become the epicenter of the pandemic in Paraguay.

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