Society

Crime, cockroaches, and decapitations: the shocking reality of Brazilian prisons

brazil prison system
Photo: Joa Souza

On New Year’s Day, 2017, a riot broke out at the Anísio Jobim penitentiary to the north of the Amazonian city of Manaus. Fueled by a confrontation between two major crime factions, the ensuing hostage situation eventually claimed the lives of 56 inmates, among them members of the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC), the São Paulo gang which is now South America’s biggest drug cartel. On that day, local public security forces phoned Luiz Carlos Valois, a criminal execution judge in Manaus, to ask him if he could help with the negotiations. “I knew these guys, I talked with them,...

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