Brazil aims to build nearly 30 prisons over the next year to ease chronic overcrowding in its penitentiary system as part of a package of emergency measures to tackle a wave of deadly prison riots, President Michel Temer said on Monday, Reuters reported.
In an interview with Reuters, Temer said Brazil's federal government would build five maximum security prisons to house the most violent convicts, often members of rival drug gangs whose turf war has plunged the prison system into crisis over the past two weeks.
At least 140 inmates have been killed since the start of the year in riots at poorly staffed prisons run by cash-strapped state governments. Many of those killed had their heads cut off and were badly mutilated or burned.
Brazil's penitentiary system, the fourth largest in the world, is home to more than 620,000 convicts and is running more than 50 percent over capacity. Almost all of its 1,400 jails are run by state governments.
Brazil's existing four federal maximum security prisons - which have not seen rioting - are close to overflowing as more and more convicts are being sent from state prisons following the riots.
As part of the package of measures worth more than 1 billion reais ($309 million), Temer said state governments in partnership with the federal government will also build an additional 25 prisons to reduce overcrowding.
"We want to expedite the construction of these prisons because it would take two or three years using traditional methods," Temer told Reuters. "By using pre-fabricated buildings - which has already been done in Espirito Santo state - perhaps we can build all of these prisons in one year."