“We Pay A High Price For Being A Prisoner's Family”: The Reality Of Intimate Searches In Prisons

“We Pay A High Price For Being A Prisoner's Family”: The Reality Of Intimate Searches In Prisons
Photo: Fotografia CNJ/Flickr


Sofia Dolabela

America and Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

In Brazil, thousands of people who visit a family member in prison, mostly women and children, are searched naked and without proper hygiene conditions through a strip search. Although the practice is explicitly prohibited in state and national legislation, intimate search is still a reality in Brazilian prisons.

On Thursday, March 10, seven civil society organizations launched the report "Vexatious search: a constant practice" [1] to denounce the violations resulting from the practice. The report brings reports from family members of people arrested and shows the profile of these victims, revealing that almost all respondents are women and 68.1% are black. In addition, 54.1% of respondents said that their children have already been subjected to vexatious procedures, and in 23.1% of the cases the right of the guardian to be present was not given so the search was made by prison guards without accompaniment.

In October 2020, a trial began at the Federal Supreme Court (STF), to verify whether evidence gathered through vexatious intimate searches can be considered valid in criminal proceedings. Before the trial was paused in 2021, five votes were counted, in which three ministers considered the practice inadmissible and defended the unconstitutionality of evidence obtained by this means.


[1] https://www.conectas.org/publicacao/revista-vexatoria-uma-pratica-constante/

Sources and further reading:

Conectas. (2022, March 10).“We pay a high price for being a prisoner's family”: the reality of intimate searches in prisons. Conectas. Retrieved March, 15,  2022, from https://www.conectas.org/noticias/pagamos-um-preco-muito-alto-por-ser-familiar-de-preso-a-realidade-das-revistas-intimas-nas-prisoes