Brazil’s President Michel Temer says his country plans to build 30 new prisons this year in the wake of a wave of fatal prison riots that erupted in its overcrowded jails.
President Michel Temer said on Monday that a package of measures worth more than 1 billion reais ($309 million) will be introduced to tackle the crisis in the country's penitentiary system, which holds more than 620,000 convicts and is running more than 50 percent over capacity.
Temer said the federal government would construct five maximum security prisons where the most violent inmates, often members of drug gangs, will be housed.
Some other 25 prisons will also be built by state governments in partnership with the federal government to reduce overcrowding.
"We want to expedite the construction of these prisons because it would take two or three years using traditional methods," Temer said.
"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," he added.
The president’s remarks come as figures show at least 140 inmates have died in Brazil's prisons in just over two weeks. Many of those killed had their heads cut off and were badly mutilated or burned.
Temer also stressed that building jails would not solve the crisis alone, adding that his government would in the future insist on the separation of non-violent criminals from more dangerous ones to prevent recruitment into organized crime.
The violence in Brazil’s prisons this year was prompted by a dispute between the country’s most powerful drug gang, the First Capital Command (PCC), and its main rival, the Red Command.
In another attempt to reduce overcrowding in Brazilian jails, the president said that his government would work with judicial authorities to accelerate the hearings of those held pending trial.
Temer noted that a planned census of inmates would also identify those who have already served their term but are still stuck behind bars. He also vowed to enhance cooperation with neighboring countries to crack down on gangs funded by drug trafficking.
"This issue is also going to be discussed with state governors so that we can incentivize the fight against cross-border trafficking of drugs, the smuggling of people and materials, and arms," Temer added.
The latest wave of violence erupted on Monday in Alcacuz Penitentiary Center in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, the same prison that members of the PCC slaughtered 26 other inmates in an earlier uprising that began late Saturday and was quelled on Sunday.