This project was singled out for distinction among the submissions to Magnum Photography Awards 2016 by juror David Kogan. Each juror selected one photographer—discover why this one stood out.

Artist’s statement:

“Ta cheio” means “it’s too full” in Portuguese. It’s what inmates say when visitors enter the prisons where they are detained. Severe overcrowding is, in fact, the most basic problem plaguing Brazil’s penal system.

The Brazil’s prison population is the fourth biggest in the world, just after the US, China and Russia. But it’s growing faster than any other country’s.

While the number of prisoners in those countries has declined over recent years, in Brazil it grew by 33% between 2008 and 2014 (and 500%+ since 1990).

According to the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), there are now around 680,000 people in the country’s jails, which were designed to hold around 300,000.

—Tommaso Protti

Juror’s statement

The work is a powerful depiction of an important human rights issue: the overcrowding of Brazilian prisons. The photographer shows originality in voice and style, and has gained remarkable access to his subject. Capturing strikingly tight compositions that verge on the violent and surreal, alongside moments of emotion and isolation, the images tell a claustrophobic, chaotic and memorable story.

—David Kogan, Executive Director
Magnum Photos