Failures Fuel Unjust Imprisonment of Blacks and Poor in Brazil

An unprecedented survey by Folha analyzes 100 cases of innocent people imprisoned; 71% of false accusations incriminated blacks

São Paulo and Brasília

The state machine that elevated Brazil to the position of country with the third largest prison population in the world also drags along with it, in the cracks of its gears, an invisible mass of innocents.

People who had their lives interrupted for up to two decades were thrown back into society without apologies after recognizing their mistakes and were marked by prejudice and fear of going back to hell. They are mostly black and, almost entirely, poor.

Although there are at least 100 detected cases, the mass of innocents can be much greater because, due to the lack of transparency, errors are not officially recognized and are only made public by the press.

Folha analyzed thousands of pages of cases and dozens of interviews, which correspond to 84% of cases of injustice. There are three main flaws in this process: recognition procedures carried out in violation of the law, people wrongly arrested in place of others after incorrect identification and arrests based solely on the words of police officers and without investigation.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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