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Brazil Inmate Is Found Dead After a Failed Escape in Daughter’s Clothes

RIO DE JANEIRO — An inmate who drew international headlines after trying to escape from prison by donning a wig, mask and his daughter’s clothes appears to have committed suicide in his cell, officials said Tuesday.

The inmate, Clauvino da Silva, 42, was found dead Tuesday morning, three days after the failed attempt, officials with the Rio de Janeiro state penitentiary system said. Prison officials said he apparently hanged himself using bedsheets.

The attempted prison break was covered extensively in Brazil and abroad after officials released a video of Mr. da Silva taking off the disguise, which included a latex mask.

Officials said he was caught while trying to walk out the front door unnoticed in clothes that belonged to his 19-year-old daughter. Investigators said they believed the mask was smuggled in by a visiting relative.

ImageCreditRio de Janeiro’s State Secretariat of Prison Administration, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. da Silva, who was known as “Shorty,” was serving a 73-year sentence on drug trafficking charges. In February 2013, he was among a group of inmates who escaped from a prison in Rio de Janeiro by slipping through a sewage pipe. He was later caught.

Brazilian officials have come under fire for their inability to safely hold prisoners. Last week, at least 62 detainees were killed following a clash between rival gangs at a prison in the northern state of Para. In late May, 55 prisoners were killed in a similar incident in the state of Amazonas.

The country’s prison system has been overwhelmed as recent tough-on-crime policies have led to a sharp rise in detentions.

Rosental Alves, a Brazilian journalist and a professor at the University of Texas in Austin, said the authorities have an “old and bad tradition of exhibiting suspects in humiliating ways, as though they were trophies.”

Still, he said, the highly unusual details of Mr. da Silva’s failed prison break justified the release of the video because it drew attention to a potential security lapse.

“The disguise used was so unusual, so cinematic and spectacular,” he said. “I have never heard of someone using a latex mask to escape from prison.”


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