Situated in the heart of Bolivia’s administrative capital city of La Paz, the San Pedro prison, the most bizarre prison in the world, is the common destination for people convicted of breaking the country’s laws.
San Pedro prison is one of the largest prisons in Bolivia’s main city and is believed to hold around 3000 dangerous inmates.
However, unlike most prisons, San Pedro is not a normal prison by any stretch of our imagination and that’s exactly what makes this prison so special.
For starters, the prison is guarded only from the outside. The only job of the guards is to make sure that no inmate is able to escape. This means that prison inmates are left on their own to look after themselves and their family.
Before entering the prison, the prisoners must buy their own cells by paying entrance fees.
The cells can be purchased either from the 'Mayor' of the prison complex, or through one of the prison’s freelance real-estate agents.
Many of the inmates in the San Pedro prison actually live together with their wives and children. There are more than 200 children living with their parents in the prison.
Children are under constant danger inside the prison.
In 2013, a 12-year-old girl became pregnant after being raped by a group of men inside the prison, reports Dailymail. But, these offences are treated with a brutal zero-tolerance policy by the inmates and the offenders usually end up drowned in the infamous small swimming pool inside the prison.
There are many different sections in the prison.
The conditions are terrible in the poorer sections where three or four inmates are confined to tiny single-room cells. On the other hand, there are parts which are more like posh apartment blocks in the luxurious La Posta sector, where drug lords and politicians live in luxurious cells with private bathrooms, kitchens and cable television.
Living in the La Posta sector costs between $1000 and $1500 and not many prisoners can afford to live there.
Every inmate must earn their living as nothing comes for free.
So many inmates work as shopkeepers, food vendors, pastors, carpenters, barbers, shoe shiners and much more. Some of the prisoners also run restaurants and most famously, cocaine laboratories. The purest form of the drug is made and sold inside the prison. San Pedro operates its own economy.
Some of the prisoners earn money through alcohol. There is also a gambling trade. Up to $20,000 are placed in bets per year on inter-section football matches.
The prisoners have established an operational community with a system for governance in place. They elect eight officials- one for each section in the prison. A small council represents each section and makes decisions for their unit.
While tourists were able to visit the San Pedro prison-doubtlessly one of the strangest tourist destinations in the world- for an entry fee, entry has been restricted since 2009.
Title image: lookwhatwedone"