About 50 inmates escaped Fundacao Casa facility after a massive riot broke out at the Sao Paolo youth detention center Monday.
Helicopter cameras captured much of the chaos in the Brazilian prison, which included inmates setting their mattresses aflame and leaping over the building's walls, as the video above shows.
About 29 staff members were held hostage during the uprising, and a battered prison facility director was taken to the hospital in critical condition, according to APTN. Police have been scouring the surrounding residential areas for the escaped detainees.
In many countries, such an uprising might be an anomaly, but in Brazil, the recent incident is merely another chapter in a saga of prison violence. A riot in 2012 saw 470 armed inmates of the Advogado Antonio Jacinto Filho prison take about 130 people hostage. And earlier this month, 25 Brazilian police officers were found guilty of killing 52 prison inmates during a Sao Paolo prisoner riot in 1992.
In a 2012 report on the country's prison system, the Rio Times pointed out that the Brazilian Forum of Public Security estimates 37 percent of inmates in the country's prisons are awaiting trial. "We have hell in prisons. We have 70,000 prisoners, at least, illegally detained in police stations,” Supremo Tribunal Federal Minister Gilmar Mendes said in the report.
According to Amnesty International, Brazil had 200,000 more prisoners than facilities could accommodate by the end of 2012, resulting in atrocious overcrowding.
Several programs are attempting to ease that burden by providing prisoners various opportunities to shorten their sentences through knitting, reading books and even stationary biking to generate power.