A locked gate at the now-decommissioned Vila de Dois Rios Prison, known for its overcrowded conditions and informal prisoner control of daily operations.
tanozzo / Flickr

The island of Ilha Grande is located 62 miles to the southwest of the city of Rio de Janeiro. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, slave laborers produced coffee and sugarcane on the island. With the eventual abolition of slavery, however, the island’s economy went into a decline. Then, in 1884, the federal government purchased two large fazendas (farms). The Fazenda do Holandês, located in the port town of Vila do Abraão, was purchased for the purpose of building a quarantine facility for immigrants arriving by boat. The facility, which at the time was considered state of the art, opened its doors in 1886 and could accommodate up to 1,500 passengers who were segregated according to the class of their berth on board ship. Between 1886 and 1913, the Lazerota da Ilha Grande, as it was called, received visits from 4,232 ships, 3,367 of which had to be disinfected. Then, for the next few decades,

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