Hundreds of prisoners escaped from four semi-open prisons in São Paulo state in the south-east of Brazil after their day-release rights were temporarily revoked by prison officials and restrictions on visitors tightened due to the country’s coronavirus outbreak.
Footage on Twitter appeared to show a long line of prisoners fleeing from Mongaguá penitentiary on the Sao Paolo coast, where 400 reportedly fled. Other videos showed riot police attempting to regain control of one prison.
However, Sao Paulo state prison authority said in a statement on Tuesday night that 174 inmates had already been recaptured but admitted it was “still tallying the exact number of fugitives” that had broken free following riots at semi-open jails in Tremembé, Porto Feliz, Mirandópolis and Mongaguá with local media put the figure at more than 1,500.
Reacting to the jail-break, Sao Paulo state prison authority said “acts of insubordination” had taken place at the jails after it postponed the Easter prison break – one of five annual breaks for prisoners in semi-open regimes who work in the day – because of coronavirus.
“The measure was necessary because the benefit would include more than 34,000 convicts of the semi-open regime who, returning to prison, would have high potential to install and spread the coronavirus in a vulnerable population, generating health risks to servers and custodians,” the prison department added.
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