Investigate Inhumane Prison Conditions and Deaths

Target: Minister of Justice José Eduardo Cardozo

Goal: Investigate the severity of prison conditions that resulted in 60 prison deaths in 2013

Brazil’s prisons have become massively overcrowded, resulting in limited resources and disgruntled inmates. There has been an increase in jail sentences in the Latin American country, but no new prisons are being built, and the prison population now totals over 550,000 people.

The significant problem caused by overcrowding is the growing power of two rival gangs within the Pedrinhas prison complex.  Located in Maranhao State, the prison’s overcrowding causes there to be a shortage of guards to control the gangs and, simultaneously, unhappy inmates who want things to change in the prisons.

The prisoners complain about lack of a bed or having to eat uncooked chicken and rice. However, their method to obtain these basic needs has been violent. The gangs have been responsible for 60 deaths within Pedrinhas in 2013.

As NPR reported, the gangs have reach outside of the prison as well. After a guard crackdown, one gang called for a retaliation attack against the local community. This was carried out through a series of attacks against police stations and by lighting civilian bosses on fire. Tragically, they killed a six-year-old girl by setting her on fire.

Overcrowding has created unsafe living conditions for inmates and community members in Maranhao State. No one deserves to live in fear or without a bed.

Sign this petition to tell the Brazilian Minister of Justice to investigate the Pedrinhas prison deaths. Encourage him to improve the conditions of the Brazilian prison system so that more deaths are prevented.


Dear Minister of Justice José Eduardo Cardozo,

The gangs within the Pedrinhas prison complex have made life dangerous for the citizens of Maranhao State. The deaths of 60 inmates in 2013 demand an investigation into the conditions of the prison. But the recent expansion of the prison gangs’ reach into the community means that investigation must be immediate.

Prisoners have complained of overcrowding. Inmates often lack a bed and are forced by necessity to eat raw chicken and rice. No one should have to live in those conditions and no one should have to live in fear of the prison near where they live. I urge you to investigate the reasons for those 60 deaths and I encourage you to reduce overcrowding so that more deaths will not occur.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: DOliphant via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. Myrna Burdick says:

    People are put in prison for breaking the law. The conditions
    within the Pedrinhas Prison, lack of beds, over crowding and
    inedible meals makes for an unhappy prison population.

    Prison is meant as a punishment but it should not be a place
    that one has to fear death at the hands of one of the gangs.

    More prisons must be built with a division of the population
    by their propensity for violence. Giving the prisoners some
    thing to occupy their time, reading or learning to read, gardening to produce fresh food for the prisoners.

    Yes, these things are expensive but how are you going to keep employees, how can you protect the community that suffers from your population?

    Find something that your country needs, train some of the prisoners to produce that item and sell it.

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