Brazil’s Minister of Human Rights, Silvio Almeida, determined the National Ombudsman of his ministry to “immediately” call São Paulo justice authorities and human rights entities to take “the necessary actions” regarding the “serious accusations” of mistreatment in the Caraguatatuba Provisional Detention Center, São Paulo state.
Spoiled food, lack of medicines and basic food items, rats in the kitchen and medical negligence are some of the main issues in a letter collectively written by inmates of a prison unit and released by Brasil de Fato. In the letter, the men say they are living under “inhumane conditions” and with “food incompatible with our rights.”
The overcrowded unit is currently under the administration of Alan Scarabel de Souza. The inmates said they do not have “the means to combat this oppression without the support of the due agencies.” They asked “For God’s sake, human rights, listen to this scream of desperation.”
Brasil de Fato tried to contact the Ministry of Human Rights to ask about which measures were, are or will be taken in this case, but no response was received until the publication of this news story.
Fruits are back on the menu, but mistreatment continues
After Brasil de Fato published the story on November 8, relatives of the inmates, who visited them between November 11 and 12, said no retaliation had happened yet, and fruits are being distributed again.
However, relatives say hunger and lack of medical care continue to be a reality. “It’s hard, as a mother, to see my son dying,” said Jurema*, whose son is one of the inmates at Caraguatatuba’s provisional unit.
“He committed a crime, even though it wasn’t a serious crime, but even if it was [a serious crime], they cannot kill the inmates slowly, and that’s what they are doing: they are killing them,” Jurema explained.
The Penitentiary Administration Department (SAP, in Portuguese) stated that the food "respects a menu prepared by nutritionists", that the department's servants are responsible for "evaluating and monitoring the hygiene and cleaning conditions of the place" and that "access to health is guaranteed by the unit's health sector". On September 25, an inmate died. He was HIV positive and was not receiving medical care.
Headed by Military Police Colonel Marcello Streifinger, SAP has been expanding the number of prisons in São Paulo state, which is already the country's record holder, with 195. Currently, two new units are being built.
On the other hand, resources for maintaining inmates were cut. On October 17, governor Tarcísio de Freitas (Republicans Party) ordered the transfer of 27 million reais from SAP to the Metropolitan Train Company (CPTM, in Portuguese).
“Jail hurts… And when they are here, on the streets, society doesn’t integrate them,” says Jurema. “That’s how the overcrowding of jails continues, because out of jail, they have no chance to start again.”
“When my son was released from jail, he tried to get a job. He was so happy [to find a job] in a marble shop. He was to be hired on the books. When they asked for his criminal record, they sent him away,” says Jurema, sobbing. "Because you were in prison, you will always be an inmate,” she summarizes.
*The name was changed to preserve her identity.
Edited by: Rodrigo Durão Coelho