At least 1,350 prisoners escaped on Monday from three prisons in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo, the country’s most populous, after a series of riots motivated by restrictions on visits and temporary exits due to the fight against the coronavirus, authorities reported.
The Militarized Police (PM) of Sao Paulo indicated that at least 400 detainees fled from Mongaguá, on the state coast; another 926, which were mostly in a semi-open regime, in Mirandópolis, interior of the state, and another 30 from Taubaté, in the region known as Vale do Paraíba. According to the information, riots are reported in these and other prison centers with a number of hostages not yet reported.
The rebellions were motivated by restrictions on the temporary visits and exits of prisoners taken as part of measures to control the spread of the coronavirus.
The São Paulo Public Security Secretariat has refrained from reporting the exact number of prisoners who escaped, but confirmed in a statement that “acts of insubordination are taking place in Mongaguá, Tremembé and Porto Feliz, in addition to the semi-open pavilion in Mirandópolis” .
The regional body indicated that the reason for the riots was “the suspension of the temporary departure that was scheduled for Tuesday.” “Both the Rapid Intervention Group (GIR) and the Militarized Police were activated and are at the forefront of the situation” to recapture the escaped prisoners, the sources said.
The riots were motivated by the measures to control the spread of COVID-19 ruled by the Sao Paulo judicial bodies, which decided that the temporary departure of prisoners with the right to the semi-open regime should be “rescheduled by the corrections judges of the presidios” .
“The measure was necessary because it would benefit more than 34,000 convicts of the semi-open regime, who, returning to prisons, would increase the potential to contaminate and spread the coronavirus in a vulnerable population, generating health risks for public servants and those in custody”, stressed the statement.
In the prisons where the escapes were recorded, dozens of prisoners are still in riot. Local media outlets have reported explosions and released images of detainees with covered faces burning mattresses.
Authorities did not report whether there are hostages in the riots.