Photographer Marchel T. Johansson was behind Padre Severino 4 walls. It is for the public a closed world closed world. Photo reportage from prison in Rio.
Instituto Padre Severino was opened in 1954. It is a detention centre for young offenders between 12-14 years of age. Prison is an otherwise closed country for the general public and not many journalists have been allowed to enter.
it's a place where they are waiting to be judged and sent further on in the system, either to another prison for adults or institution, for minors. It should be within a time period of 45 days that they receive their judgment, or they will be released.
Most of them are from the infamous and largest gang in Brazil, which calls itself Comando Vermelho (Red Command.) CV. They are known to lead a hard criminal life which among other things included killings, kidnappings, drugs and rape.
Prison is both a school and has leisure activities such as swimming and football, they have a place in the prison courtyard where there are chickens and a small herb garden where thy can learn to grow vegetables. They must be able to participate in a school education but is only the most basic things they learn there. Many of them have never gone to school and cannot read or write.
Mainly they grow up in the slum with parents who have not been able to take care of them, either due to poverty, drug or other misuse. So they consider security and coexistence in the gangs.
There is both a new and an old department. The new is only a few years old and it looks somewhat more modern than the rest. In the old cells there are the around 9 boys in the 10 sqm cell, where the beds are made in concrete and you put a mattress on and a small shared toilet you can use.
In prison there are sometimes riots, where there will be set fire to stuff, etc. especially if there will be others from rival gangs and it ends up in a negative spiral of violence, rapes even killings.
I was told that 75 percent of the young boys would not live to be 21 years old, so it is a sad statistic and future they have in view.
It is hard not to feel compassion with the young boys. Their upbringing, environment and choices have forced them into crime, which often ends with them being killed or killers. In particular, the older gang members, use the minors as being murderers or pushers, since they will not be penalized as hard as an adult.
But again the emotion will fade out when you ask what they are convicted off. So it is a feeling of ambivalence, you get for the young lads.
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