Brazilian teenagers handcuffed to jail cells while sleeping


Brazilian teenagers waiting to be processed in juvenile court in Vitória, Espírito Santo, sleep handcuffed to their jail cells.


Pastoral do Menor/Folha

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — The Ministry of the Minor in Brazil's Espírito Santo state released pictures today of teenagers handcuffed to their jail cells while they slept in the Unai (Inicial Admittance Unit) in the Maruípe region of the capital city, Vitória, reported national Brazilian newspaper Folha. While waiting to be processed in juvenile court, the adolescents slept 86 to a cell, which is meant for only 30.

According to Father Saverio Paolillo, a representative of the Ministry, teenagers' stays in Unai shouldn't last more than 24 hours.

"One wing wasn't being used because of renovations, so the teenagers were crammed into cells without ventilation. The place was insanitary and those in the corridors are handcuffed during the night," said Father Paolillo.

The Vitória juvenile prison unit in question has been in a disastrous state since 1999, according to Brazilian news site UOL. The state government recently promised to demolish the unit on March 24. The demolition didn't occur.

"It must be emphasized that this is not the prison's problem because the officers there are managing a state of calamity, and we did not receive any complaints of mistreatment. What we think needs to be investigated is who maintains responsibility for this situation," said Father Xavier, another representative of the Ministry.

According to Folha, Judge Janete Pantaleão, coordinator of the Courts for Children and Youth, requested the immediate installation of a Ciase (Integrated Centre for Socio-Educational Services) until a new unit can be completed to house the adolescents currently staying at Unai.

UOL also reported that the governor has ordered an investigation that will report back immediately to his office. A meeting has also been scheduled for tomorrow to discuss the situation at Unai.

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