Incarceration rate for Black Brazilians reaches historic high

The number of Black inmates in Brazil’s penitentiary system reached an all-time high last year, according to a report published Thursday

The annual report by the non-profit organization the Brazilian Public Security Forum (FBSP), which has been documenting crime, violence and the prison system in Brazil since 2005, said there were 442,033 Black inmates in 2022, accounting for 68.2% of the total prison population.

In 2005, when the FBSP began operations, the Black prison population accounted for 58.4% of the total.

The figures depicted in the report show a disproportionate trend between incarcerated Blacks and whites. ​​​​​​​

In 2022, white inmates accounted for 30.4% or 197,084 convicts, less than half of the Black prison population. In 2005, they accounted for 39.8%.

“The Brazilian prison network lays bare structural racism. If from 2005 to 2022, there was a 215% growth in the incarcerated white population, there was a 381.3% growth in the Black population,” said the report. 

Overall, Brazil’s prison population rose to 826,740 in 2022 from 815,165 in 2021, the report said, noting that overcrowding and unsanitary conditions are common.

The study denounced a growing incarceration culture that is overrepresented by Black people. It also condemned the lack of concrete legal action and policy from the government, which only legitimizes “inequality” and “structural racism.” 

In addition to the disproportionate rise in the incarceration of Black people, the FBSP also reported an increase in complaints of racism in Brazil in 2022, which were up 67% from the previous year. Additionally, reports of racial slurs also grew to 10,990 cases in 2022 from 10,814 in 2021.

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