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While we were all celebrating the winter holidays and New Year’s Eve, mayhem and violence robbed similar holiday festivities in Brazil of their festive joy. On January 1 and 2, two rival gangs took control of a privately run prison in Manaus, Brazil, in an attempt to secure their respective positions as controllers of the narcotics trade. This battle only intensified when inmates within the complex threw about 60 deceased bodies over the prison walls. Throughout the two-day riot, a total of 56 inmates were killed at the Anísio Jobim Penitentiary Complex.

Photographs of the riot depict shirtless, bloodied inmates running for their lives and wielding improvised spears inside the walls. Outside the prison, the streets were crowded with camera crews crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with the inmates’ loved ones who prayed for answers and peace.

During the riots, two of Brazil’s largest gangs—the PCC (First Capital Command) and the Sindicato do Crime do Rio Grande do Norte (Crime Union of Rio Grande do Norte)—were in the midst of a gang war.

How could the Complex have avoided a tragedy of this magnitude?

Statistics from 2014 show that Brazil’s prison system is intensely overcrowded; prisons built for 100 people on average house 157. This issue has caused many heated debates and physical fights. Unfortunately, Brazilian inmates shouldn’t expect new jails anytime soon considering how Brazil’s economy continues to struggle from the lingering expense of the 2016 Olympics. But if Brazil wants to decrease the rates of violence in prisons, the Brazilian government must prioritize this issue.

Additionally, the Anísio Jobim Penitentiary Complex is privately run and greatly underfunded. According to the BBC, “Following the deadly riots in Amazonas, state governor Jose Melo asked the federal government for equipment such as scanners, electronic tags and devices which block mobile phone signals inside prisons.” Governor Jose Melo had to request equipment that would be standard in typical Brazilian prisons and is a necessity in a modern prison.

The riots on January 1 and 2 would not have taken place if the complex were government-run and if the prison staff had the necessary tools and equipment. This riot serves as a wake-up call to the Brazilian government to invest more in its prisons and work on regulations that all prisons must adhere to. The overcrowded prisons and lack of equipment demonstrate the laxity of Brazil’s regulations.

Government-run or not, these attacks have become increasingly common. As of January 14, nearly 100 people were killed in four prison riots throughout the country, with even more inmates now at large, having escaped. The Brazilian federal government is still under backlash and pressure since the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff, who manipulated the federal budget amid the economic crisis following the 2016 Olympics. Michel Temer, her vice-president and the current president of Brazil, has a long, rocky road of prudent and well-timed fiscal decisions ahead of him before Brazil’s economy becomes stable again. This lack of resources has undoubtedly affected the way the prisons’ situation is being handled.

In order for the Brazilian government to curb gang violence in prisons and on the streets, they must allocate a greater budget for their law enforcement and jail system, allowing for more armed personnel on the ground and new, modernized prisons. Brazil’s economic crisis is unquestionably linked to their prison crisis.