On this day October 2, 1992

In response to a prison riot, military police stormed the Carandiru Penitentiary in São Paulo, Brazil, killing at least 100 prisoners, and is considered a major human rights violation in the history of Brazil.

Carandiru Penitantiery

Carandiru Penitantiery

The massacre was triggered by a revolution of sorts in the prison, incited by prisoners. As the prison riot became harder to control, the Military Police stormed Carandiru.

The result was that 111 prisoners were killed, 102 from gunshots fired by Military Police and nine from stab wounds, apparently inflicted by other prisoners before the arrival of the police.

None of the sixty eight police were killed. Survivors claimed that the police also fired at inmates who already surrendered or tried to hide in their cells.

The commanding officer of the operation, colonel Ubiratan Guimarães, was initially sentenced to 620 years in prison for his handling of the rebellion and massacre. On 16 February 2006 a Brazilian court voided Guimarães’ conviction due to mistrial claims; the court accepted his argument that he was only following orders.

Several human rights groups labeled the situation as a “step backward” and a contribution to the culture of impunity regarding police violence in Brazil. Guimarães, who was also a member of the São Paulo state legislature, was assassinated in September 2006, in a crime apparently unrelated to the Carandiru event.

The massacre led to consternation amongst other Brazilian inmates, some of whom formed a criminal organization called the First Command of the Capital in 1993. This group is believed to be responsible for the death of José Ismael Pedrosa, director of the prison at the time.

The prison was demolished on December 9, 2002. To date (July 2008) no one has served a single day in the prison.

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