Taylor Barnes – Global Post, 05/14/2012
On a dank commercial street in this working-class suburb of Rio de Janeiro, women and babies line up with tupperwares of beans and grocery bags with crackers in front of what used to be a horse stable. Hundreds of men accused of drug trafficking, murder, robbery, sexual assault or paramilitary activity are waiting for them inside.
It’s as routine as it is illegal: These ad hoc police-run jails were never meant to exist.
With official prisons overflowing, police across Brazil for decades have turned to whatever structure they could find — in some cases old buses and shipping containers — to house their detainees. But what was meant to be a temporary holding pen became years-long imprisonment for suspects waiting for a trial.
These jails operate with no budget or administration. Detainees’ family members bring them food and other necessities. Some privileged prisoners are chosen to run the jail under the watch of a few policemen. Corruption has flourished.