Brazil surpassed Russia and became the country with the third largest prison population in the world: there are more than 726,000 inmates there, down from only in the United States (2.1 million) and China (1, 6 million). Former owners of the third position in the ranking, the Russians now appear in the fourth position, with 646 thousand inmates. The data were released on Friday (8) by the National Penitentiary Department (Depen), an organ linked to the Ministry of Justice.

According to the new edition of the National Survey of Penitentiary Information (Infopen), which gathers data referring to 2015 and the first half of 2016, practically nine out of ten inmates in Brazil (89%) are in units with a deficit of vacancies , that is, in overcrowded chains – regardless of the penalty compliance regime.

In terms of overcrowding, the Depen study shows that 78% of Brazilian prison units have more prisoners than the number of available places.

The highest occupation rate was verified in the state of Amazonas, where prisons operate, on average, with more than four times (484%) capacity. And it was precisely in that state that a major prison crisis began at the beginning of this year, when more than 50 inmates were executed inside Compaj , the largest prison in the state of Amazonas. The episode became the biggest carnage recorded in Brazilian prisons since the Carandiru massacre in 1992.

The deficit of vacancies in the country’s chains has increased in recent years, from 250 thousand to 336 thousand vacancies less than necessary. Already the rate of prisoners per group of 100 thousand inhabitants rose between the end of 2014 and June of 2016 in Brazil. If before there were 306 prisoners per 100,000 Brazilians, today this number is already 353 individuals.

Who are the prisoners?

Still according to the Depen study, the majority of Brazilian prisoners (55%) are young people, aged between 18 and 29 years; and blacks, who represent an incredible 64% of the total prisoners. Low schooling also reigns in the country’s chains: three out of four prisoners did not finish high school, and less than 1% of inmates are trained in higher education.

Only 5.8% of all inmates in Brazil are women (just under 46 thousand inmates). Of this female contingent, 62% of prisons are related to drug trafficking – when taken into consideration only men arrested, that rate is 26%.

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