The murder of a prisoner and an uprising of inmates took place in the past few hours at the Pedrinhas Penitentiary Complex, Brazil’s most violent prison, authorities said Friday.
A prisoner identified as Helio da Silva Souza, 21, was found dead in one of the cellblocks of the prison complex, according to the Secretariat of the Justice and Penitentiary Administration of the northern state of Maranhao.
The death of Souza, who was hanged with a bedsheet, brings to 17 the number of inmates killed so far this year at Pedrinhas and is the 75th murder there since January 2013.
Aside from the slaying, prisoners staged an uprising this Friday before dawn in another cellblock of the Pedrinhas complex, which was quickly quelled by an elite unit of the Maranhao state police.
The rioting inmates were protesting against the transfers of some prisoners to other Maranhao jails, ordered to reduce the overcrowding and tension at the prison.
These latest incidents came two days after 13 prisoners broke out of Pedrinhas through a tunnel and another group of inmates led a rebellion, with some trying to escape through the main gate, only to be quickly rounded up by police.
The week before, 36 inmates escaped through a hole broken in a prison wall with a dumptruck stolen shortly before and intentionally crashed into the wall.
Then there was the senior prison official arrested on grounds of helping prisoners escape.
The crisis at Pedrinhas forced Maranhao Gov. Roseana Sarney to dismiss Wednesday the secretary of justice and penitentiary administration, Sebastiao Uchoa, and to substitute him temporarily with Public Safety Secretary Marcos Jose Moraes Affonso Junior.
According to figures of the Maranhao state government, 105 prisoners have escaped from the complex so far this year.
The prison population of Brazil officially numbers more than 550,000 inmates, which is 30 percent more than the nation’s jails are designed to hold.