I had walked through prisons in Brazil where the cement walls were so old and cracked that — beyond its symbolic gesture — I wondered what the point was of having a barred door with a lock. But the maximum-security prison I visited this summer in Espírito Santo State was quite different. Its cement hallway was tall and sturdy, with freshly painted yellow walls. As I approached the entrance, an electronic door was queued to open by the central surveillance room, where officers now use computers and cameras to monitor the prisoners’ activities 24 hours a day — from monitoring inmate interactions on the yard to counting the number of electronic doors open at any given moment throughout the entire building.
November 3, 2014