Brazil’s Prison Anarchy: Past, Present, And Future

2358 words - 9 pages

Most people have no idea what it feels like to be in prison, and it is certainly a place no individual would like to be in. Brazil has the world’s fourth largest prison population and every single day more and more violence is occurring within the prison walls. To make matters worse, the violence inside the incarceration facilities has lead to an increase in violence outside of the prisons. Overcrowding, limited resources, gangs, etc. are contributing factors to what has lead to this prison anarchy. People around the world barely have begun to hear about the violence in Brazilian prisons, yet it has been going on for years. Brazil, the country that is holding the upcoming FIFA 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics is in a state of a violent and gruesome prison crisis. This paper will present provide historical context to the issue, the reasons as to why Brazil’s prison system is violent/overcrowded, and discuss what the government is going to help the issue.
To understand what is occurring in Brazil currently, one must dig into history. Around 1693 slave hunters from Sao Paulo, Brazil found “lead colored flakes of heavy metal near the headwaters of Sao Francisco River” . When they melted the metal down the men noticed it was gold and within a few years there was a gold rush in Brazil in the state of Minas Gerais. The gold rush and coffee plantations later fueled the slave trade, revenue and created big cities we know today in Brazil . Since then, Brazilians have been undergoing urbanization and leaving the countryside towards the Northeast in search of a better life. Mostly during the 1940’s urbanization began to occur, with people pouring into the city in search of jobs and creating “favelas” on the edge of the city (what we know as slums) . With so many people moving from rural Brazil and living in the favelas, they began to become permanent communities. Some of the most well known favelas like Rocinha (near the edge of Rio de Janiero) have up to a quarter of million people living it .
Now let’s fast forward and take a look into the 1960’s and 1980’s. During that time span began the “increasing inequity in income distribution” . In other words, the rich became wealthier and the poor became poorer. The economy in Brazil prospered during the 1950s because of the “new neo-classical, yet still nationalist, reforming approach” , but during the Cold War the economy suffered as major companies were being sold off . According to the World Bank, “Brazil has the most inequitable distribution of wealth of any country in the world” . With that being said, once there a large gap between social classes there is usually an increase in crime. That becomes a dangerous trend very fast, and the permanent slums around major cities have become a focal point for drug trade because of the need for money. The drug dealers/lords control these favelas with bribery and violence . The struggles to control and capture the drug lords/drug gangs have turned Brazil...

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