SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Nine inmates were killed, 14 were injured and dozens escaped in a prison riot on Monday, the national news media reported. It was the latest example of Brazil’s difficulties maintaining control over its notoriously violent penal system.
According to a newspaper, O Estado de São Paulo, 106 prisoners escaped the prison in the city of Goiânia, near the capital, Brasília. The authorities recaptured 27 of the escapees, but the rest remained at large.
One of the inmates killed in the mayhem was decapitated, news organizations reported, recalling a prison riot that occurred one year ago in the Amazon in which 56 people died. Several were decapitated and thrown over prison walls.
That riot, which was rooted in a longstanding gang rivalry, came at the beginning of a January marred by widespread prison violence, with 130 prisoners dying in the first 20 days of 2017.
Brazil’s prisons, which suffer endemic violence, are often severely overcrowded. Rights group call prison conditions medieval, with food scarce and cells often so packed that inmates have no space to lie down.
In comments on Monday the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, the head of Brazil’s prison guard union, Jorimar Bastos, criticized the resources allocated for oversight at the Goiânia prison, saying only five guards were assigned to watch over 900 prisoners.