Published on Apr 28, 2014
Journeyman Pictures

Hell Hole: The shocking secret world inside the walls of Brazil’s prisons

This shocking report on the inhuman, medieval conditions experienced by Brazilian prisoners defies belief. How can such an economically stable country perpetrate such blatant human rights abuses?

“We want out! The water is yellow! It’s making us sick!”. The prisoners of the Central Prison of Porto Alegre scream out of iron-barred windows. Inside, it’s a veritable museum of horrors: crumbling stone cells designed for 8 men are crammed with 40: mattresses line the floors, corridors, and even the rancid toilets, and men are literally left to rot to death. “The situation is chaotic”, says Prison Inspector Gilmar Bortolotto. He shows us the guns, mobile phones, drugs, and other weapons that are smuggled in inside the body, or by visitors or crooked staff. He explains that prison gangs impose their own rules here: “they charge [other prisoners] to sleep, to shower, for food. It’s basically a laboratory for more criminal problems”. Building new prisons, to separate repeat offenders from first timers, and the most dangerous criminals from the minor offenders, is the only way forward. Yet attributing the lack of funding for prison reforms to “the will of the people”, Gilmar seems doubtful this will ever happen. A quote from Mandela eloquently expresses his deep sense of shame: “you don’t know a country until you know that country’s prisons.”

SBS Dateline – Ref. 4811

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