Located in the heart of the mountainous city of La Paz in western Bolivia, the San Pedro Prison is the strangest prison in the world. Housing more than 2,400 inmates, it is the largest prison in Bolivia. However, that’s not what makes this prison special. Read below to know what makes this prison the most bizarre one in the world.
San Pedro prison is guarded only from the outside and their only job is to make sure that no one escapes.
This means that the prisoners are, for the most part, left to look after themselves.
Inmates in this prison pay an entrance fee and have to buy their cells either from the prison’s mayor or through one of the prison’s freelance real-estate agents when they enter the prison. Interestingly, the prisoners also established a functioning society with a system of government and they elect eight officials, one for each section inside the prison. Each section is represented by a small council, to make decisions.
Many of the prisoners live with their wives and children in the prison.
There are about 200 children who live with their fathers in this place.
The children inside the prison are often in constant danger, but rapists and child molesters are treated with a brutal, zero-tolerance policy by the inmates. Whoever commits a crime usually ends up drowned in the small swimming pool inside the prison.
The conditions in the prison are different in every section.
In the poorest sections, the conditions are terrible and 3 or 4 inmates are crammed into single-room cells. On the other hand, in the luxurious La Posta section, politicians and drug lords live in luxury cells with private bathrooms, a kitchen, and cable television.
Living in La Posta costs between $1,000 and $1,500 and not many people can afford to live there.
The San Pedro prison operates its own economy and inmates work as shopkeepers, food vendors, pastors, barbers, carpenters, shoe shiners, etc.
Some of them even run cocaine laboratories and the purest cocaine in the country is made and sold inside the prison.
Some of the prisoners earn money through alcohol trade and there is also a gambling trade and up to $20,000 in bets are placed per year on intersection football matches.
Although prison tours are illegal, tourists have been able to pay their way into the San Pedro prison since as early as the 1990s.
Guards accept bribes and thousands of backpackers have entered the prison since the tour first started.
San Pedro prison has been strictly off-limits to tourists from 2009, but if you have the money you can still make things happen.