RIO DE JANEIRO, NETRALNEWS.COM - Around hundreds of inmates are estimated to have broken out from four jails in Brazil and escaped before their "one day free" rights were suspended on account of the COVID-19 outbreak and plans to lock down the area.
Sao Paulo state prison authorities said they could not confirm the number of prisoners who escaped because "they were still calculating the exact number of fugitives." Meanwhile, local media reported that as many as 1,000 prisoners escaped from four jails, namely Mongagua, Tremembe, Porto Feliz, and Morandpolis.
Regarding the suspension of the "one day free" program, prison authorities say this was necessary because around 34,000 inmates will return to prison after a day out.
"They could have a high risk of transmitting and spreading the coronavirus in this vulnerable environment, and this could lead to a health threat to the prisoners, guards, and prison workers," according to Sao Paulo prison authorities.
At present, the authority said law enforcement is being sought to deal with the problem.
The state of Sao Paulo is home to Primeiro Comando da Capital, the most powerful prison gang in Brazil that has an extensive network throughout the country, and even extending to neighboring countries. The group trades firearms, drugs and other contraband.
Overcrowded prisons in Brazil are often a deadly area for prisoners inside due of competition between rival gangs, as reported by Antara.