Explaining Brazil #71: How Brazil’s prisons became war zones

Since the turn of the year of 2016 to 2017, over 200 inmates were killed within government-run prisons. In other countries, this would spark outrage, protests, and public disgust.

Not in Brazil, a country where more and more people believe that the only good criminals are dead criminals.

However, treating inmates as subhuman only worsens the problem. Violence-infested penitentiaries have become a hotbed for drug gangs to recruit new members. This week, we try to understand how things became so bad.

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On this episode:

  • Robert Muggah is a specialist in cities, security, migration and new technologies. In 2011 he co-founded the Igarapé Institute – a think-tank working on data-driven safety and justice across Latin America and Africa, where he is currently the director of research.

Background reading:

Explaining Brazil is made by:

  • Gustavo Ribeiro, editor in chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de São Paulo, Médiapart and Radio France Internationale.
  • Maria Martha Bruno, producer. She is a journalist with 15 years of experience in politics, arts, and breaking news. She has collaborated with Al Jazeera, NBC, and CNN, among others, and worked as an international correspondent in Buenos Aires.
  • Euan Marshall, editing. is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.

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