The massive escape occurred on March 16 in three prisons located in Managua, Mirandopolis, and Taubate. The inmates started fires, riots, and took guards as hostages after authorities announced several departures and visiting restrictions as a measure to prevent Covid-19 spreading in Brazilian territory.
These centers operate under a semi-open reclusion system. Inmates can work out of penal facilities and return in the day. They also have the right to 5 authorized exits to see their families.
The Brazilian government postponed these prerogatives due to Covid-19 restriction measures. The massive escape was conducted by convicts and it occurred after the announcement of administrative regulations.
24 hours after the events, Sao Paulo police captured about half of the escapees with the help of prison security officers.
The Penitentiary Administrative Secretary in Sao Paulo explained departures’ suspension was a necessity since "it would contemplate more than 34,000 prisoners in a semi-open regime who, upon returning to prison, would have a high potential to install and spread the coronavirus to a vulnerable population, which would generate risks for the health of the servants and guards". The institution said the total number of fugitives has not yet been determined.
The escape adds tension to Brazil’s situation regarding the virus. According to the World Health Organization, the South American nation has already recorded 529 cases of infection, four deaths, and two recoveries.