AP PHOTOS: Inside one of Brazil's packed prisons

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AP PHOTOS: Inside one of Brazil's packed prisons
In this Dec. 1, 2015 photo, handmade weapons and tools found in inmates' cells lay on display at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. A recently installed scanner has reduced the number of cell phones, drugs and razor blades that are smuggled into the prison by visiting relatives. But many of these items are often thrown over the prison walls and retrieved by waiting inmates. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Dec. 1, 2015 photo, inmates play cards inside the patio of a cell block reserved for prisoners taking part in a work program at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Inmates on work programs, voluntarily detoxing from drugs or from the LGBT community who are at high risk of being attacked, live in separate areas of the prison, but their special protection is unquestionably an exception. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Dec. 1, 2015 photo, an inmate watches a police officer take a prisoner count inside the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Prisoners are housed in different cells according to which gangs they belong to in an effort to tamp down violence. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Dec. 1, 2015 photo, inmates rest outside their cells in order to give a fellow prisoner privacy during visitation day, at a block set aside for prisoners who are part of a work program at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. With more and more inmates arriving each day, attempts at bettering the facility seem to fall further behind. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Dec. 1, 2015 photo, a police officer inspects an image of a visitor standing inside a body scanner at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The recently installed scanner has reduced the number of cell phones, drugs and razor blades that are smuggled into the prison by visiting relatives. But many of these items are often thrown over the prison walls and retrieved by waiting inmates. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Dec. 1, 2015 photo, inmates chat inside the patio of a cell block set aside for working prisoners at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Inmates on work programs, voluntarily detoxing from drugs or from the LGBT community who are at high risk of being attacked, live in separate areas of the prison, but their special protection is unquestionably an exception. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Nov. 30, 2015 photo, an inmate stands facing the wall as he waits for authorization to walk to his cell inside the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. As with many nations in Latin America, the penitentiary system is chaotic and cruel, with violent uprisings across Brazil breaking out frequently as prisoners rebel against horrific conditions. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Nov. 30, 2015 photo, clothing hangs from the overcrowded cells at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. With more than 600,000 inmates behind bars, Brazil has the fourth-largest prison population in the world after the United States, China and Russia, according to Brazilâs Justice Ministry. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Nov. 30, 2015 photo, inmates play soccer at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where inmates' clothing hang from their cell windows. The facility holds over twice its capacity of almost 2000 inmates. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Nov. 30, 2015 photo, a police officer stands guard outside the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Police say they intercept at least 80 percent of what is thrown over the walls. The remaining 20 percent ends up in the hands of the prison gangs. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Nov. 30, 2015 photo, a mural of Jesus decorates the wall of a cell used by prisoners who joined a work program at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Eugenio Terra, president of the Porto Alegre Association of Judges, denounced the prison's conditions before the Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States in 2013. "We want incarceration to take place with dignity,â he said, âbecause the way it is done today favors the gangs and the power they hold at the prison.â (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Nov. 30, 2015 photo, an inmate who joined a drug rehabilitation program reads inside his cell at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Inmates on work programs, voluntarily detoxing from drugs or from the LGBT community who are at high risk of being attacked, live in separate areas of the prison, but their special protection is unquestionably an exception. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Nov. 30, 2015 photo, police officers watch prisoners creating art in a workshop at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Inmates on work programs, voluntarily detoxing from drugs or from the LGBT community who are at high risk of being attacked, live in separate areas of the prison, but their special protection is unquestionably an exception. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Nov. 30, 2015 photo, inmates peer from their cell window at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. One only catches glimpses of what goes on inside from behind tall metal fences topped with razor wire, where guards keep an anxious eye on inmates, packed 10 to a cell that should sleep only four. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Nov. 30, 2015 photo, an inmate watches television in a cell block for prisoners who are part of a work program at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Inmates on work programs, voluntarily detoxing from drugs or from the LGBT community who are at high risk of being attacked, live in separate areas of the prison, but their special protection is unquestionably an exception. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Nov. 30, 2015 photo, an inmate in handcuffs holds pills he received from the clinic to treat a skin infection at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Since a denunciation in 2013 about the prison's conditions before the Human Rights Commission of the OAS, some improvements have been made to areas such as the clinic, which mainly treats outbreaks of tuberculosis, a disease common inside prisons. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Nov. 30, 2015 photo, a cat walks across a cell block reserved for working prisoners at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The cat comes and goes as it pleases at the prison, along with a few other cats who are cared for by inmates. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Nov. 30, 2015 photo, an inmate walks outside in the patio of a cell block where working prisoners are housed at the Central Prison in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The Central Prison in Porto Alegre has been called out in Human Rights Watch reports for its particular brutality, both prisoner-on-prisoner and for how inmates are treated. At this prison, most only get two hours of sunlight a week. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
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PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — It's the same prison — but the different wings are worlds apart.

Violent drug gangs rule in most of the sprawling Central Prison in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, bursting with over twice its capacity of fewer than 2,000 inmates. Members commit crimes via cellphones, traffic drugs and lure other prisoners to join their ranks.

One only catches glimpses of what goes on inside from behind tall metal fences topped with razor wire, where guards keep an anxious eye on inmates, packed 10 to a cell that should sleep only four.

Putrid garbage is strewn beneath the barred windows, with inmates peering out and flashing gang signs between sheets, shirts, shoes and shower towels hung out to dry.

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Yet elsewhere the cells are neater, tidier, the violence less.

These are the few cells for inmates on work programs, those voluntarily detoxing from drugs and for those in the LGBT community at high risk of being attacked, but their special protection is unquestionably an exception.

With more than 600,000 inmates behind bars, Brazil has the fourth-largest prison population in the world after the United States, China and Russia, according to Brazil's Justice Ministry.

As with many nations in Latin America, the penitentiary system is chaotic and cruel, with violent uprisings across Brazil breaking out frequently as prisoners rebel against horrific conditions.

The Central Prison in Porto Alegre has been called out in Human Rights Watch reports for its particular brutality, both prisoner-on-prisoner and for how inmates are treated.

Prisoners are housed in different cells according to which gangs they belong to in an effort to tamp down violence.

Eugenio Terra, president of the Porto Alegre Association of Judges, denounced the prison's conditions before the Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States in 2013.

"We want incarceration to take place with dignity," he said, "because the way it is done today favors the gangs and the power they hold at the prison."

Since that denunciation, some improvements have been made to areas such as the clinic, which mainly treats outbreaks of tuberculosis, a disease common inside prisons.

But with more and more inmates arriving each day, attempts at bettering this brutal place just seem to fall further behind.

Diego Henrique, who is packed into a cell with 10 other men while serving a second time prison on drug trafficking charges, said he has scant hope of improvements.

"For me, prisons are all the same," he said. "The only thing that changes is the color of the bars."

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