The 1984 Brazilian Penal Enforcement Law determined the creation of federal prisons in Brazil, but it is only now, 20 years later, that they are beginning to be built.
Five maximum security prisons are under construction. The first two, in the states of Paraná and Mato Grosso do Sul, will be inaugurated in two months.
The other three, in Rio Grande do Norte, Rondônia, and Espírito Santo, should be ready by the end of the year.
Each prison will cost around US$ 7.6 million, and the public coffers will expend over US$ 630 per month on each inmate, according to the Ministry of Justice’s National Penitentiary Department.
The difference between the new prisons and the ones already in existence is that coordination will be in the hands of the federal government instead of the states.
The prisons will house highly dangerous criminals. They are also designed to thwart the activities of gangs, even when their leaders are in jail.
"Inmates in the federal prisons will remain in individual cells, fitted out with all necessary security equipment. In this way the gangs will be dismantled," explained the director of the department, Maurício Kuehne.
Each prison will have 200 cells, all of them individual. The buildings are made up of four wings, each with 50 cells divided along two corridors.
Each wing has specific areas for visits, work, education, and sunbathing, so that the only times inmates will leave their wings will be to receive legal or medical assistance.
Each cell contains a bed, toilet, sink, wardrobe, and shelf. Cell phones and TV sets are prohibited. The government is still analyzing how to provide access to means of communication, as required by law. There will be 168 security guards in each prison.
Brazil has 360 thousand inmates in 1000 prisons throughout the country. Nearly a third of the prisons are maximum security. Funds to pay for prison construction and maintenance come from the National Penitentiary Fund.