BRASILIA: Prisoners at a jail in the southern Brazilian state of Parana took 12 guards and several fellow inmates hostage Monday in the latest of a series of mutinies.
“Twelve guards are being held hostage along with a group of inmates — we don’t know how many,” regional secretary of state for justice Elson Faxina said.
“We don’t know what is behind the rioting,” which began early morning in the town of Guarapuava, Faxina told AFP.
The mutiny is the fifth in jails in Parana in barely a month and the 21st this year, according to the regional prison officer’s union, Sindarspen.
In August, a two-day mutiny by inmates in the town of Cascavel saw five prisoners killed — two of them beheaded.
In the northern city of Sao Luis de Maranhao, the infamous penitentiary of Pedrinhas has seen violence and many attempts to escape brutal conditions, while last month saw two prisoners slain at a jail in the northern region of Amazonia.
With 548,000 prisoners nationwide, Brazil’s jails are bursting at the seams.
There are 274 people in prison per 100,000 residents, according to the International Centre of Penitentiary Studies and NGO Conectas says the country needs to boost capacity by 207,000 to deal with severe overcrowding.
“The Parana prison system is in major crisis,” Sindarspen said in a statement.
The union added that prison officers fear for their personal safety “and we don’t know if we’ll make it home after our shifts.”