Brazilian authorities reached a deal with inmates Aug. 25 after a deadly prison uprising at Cascavel in Paraná state.
The riot erupted the day before as breakfast was being served when inmates overpowered guards. In apparent score-settling between rival drug gangs, two prisoners were beheaded, and two others were thrown to their deaths off the roof of a cellblock. At least 25 were injured in the fighting. Under the deal, two guards who had been taken hostage are to be freed in exchange for a commitment to improving conditions at the facility and the transfer of some inmates to other prisons.
The prison had already exceeded its intended 925 capacity. Negotiations on the specifics are ongoing between prisoners and the Paraná attorney general’s office. Some 574,000 are incarcerated in Brazil; only the US, China, and Russia have more people behind bars. It is an open secret in Brazil that with prison overcrowding at unmanageable levels, guards routinely keep the peace by handing control of cellblocks to the inmates. The overcrowding has been exacerbated by a legal reform eight years ago that dramatically increased sentences for drug trafficking.