By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Executive Superintendence of Penitentiary Administration (SEAP) confirmed through a statement released on Monday (January 1st) night that nine prisoners died and fourteen were injured, during a riot in the central Brazilian state of Goiâs.
Government news sources report that the riot happened at the Agroindustrial Colony of Semiaberto Regime, in the Prison Complex of Aparecida de Goiânia, in the metropolitan region of Goiânia, the capital city of Goiâs.
According to SEAP, the riot began when prisoners who were in wing C, invaded wings A, B and D. During the confrontation, the detainees also set fire to the prison unit.
Also according to the report, the unit has ten individual and six collective units. The document indicates that detainees from different criminal factions were separated into different wings for security reasons. The assessment at the time was that site security was poor – “mobile phones and drugs of all kinds are often seized,” the report said.
It took the action of the Copro de Bombeiros to put out the fire. Around 4PM, the prison was taken over by the Group of Special Prison Operations (GOPE), with the support of the Military Police Shock Battalion.
The Military Police Aircrew Group (GRAer) also provided support at the scene, from the beginning of the riot, to contain prisoners escaping and the recapture of fugitives on the run.
SEAP also reported that 106 detainees fled at the time of the riot, 29 of whom were recaptured, and 127 left the prison during the riot, but returned voluntarily after the riot ended.
The total number of people incarcerated in Brazil reached 726,712 in June 2016, the third largest prison population in the world, only behind the United States and China, according to a study released by Brazil’s Ministry of Justice.
According to government officials 89 percent of the country’s prison population are housed in overcrowded units. The Ministry’s report shows that forty percent of people currently in Brazilian jails are provisional prisoners, who have not yet been convicted or even tried.
“Squeezing so many people into cells facilitates the spread of disease and makes it impossible for prison guards to keep control inside prisons. It is a ‘gift’ to criminal factions, which offer ‘protection’ to prisoners when the authorities do not,” says César Muñoz, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch Brasil.