Drugs, Politicians & Wives: Inside The Hell That Is One Of The World’s Most Bizarre and Dangerous Prisons

Prisons are built to keep criminals and other offenders away from society. It’s main purpose is to contain threats to a healthy society, rejuvenate the people inside its walls and make them understand the intensity of the crimes they have committed. There exists a strange prison in the heart of the mountainous city of La Paz in western Bolivia, 11,500 feet up in the Andes. San Pedro Prison is the largest prison in La Paz, Bolivia and is also coined as the strangest prison in the world. What makes it so special? Not all of the 3,000 people it holds within its walls are prisoners. Here is a story about a prison that has drug dealers, politicians as well as families inside of it. Read on to find out more…




The San Pedro Prison is guarded only from the outside and their only job is to make sure that no one escapes.

One of the strangest prisons in the world: Cárcel de San Pedro
Image Source: Miradas/flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

The largest prison in La Paz, Bolivia is significantly different from most correctional facilities. The prison has no guards walking inside its walls. The guards who protect it have only one job – to make sure that no one escapes. This also means that the prisoners are for the most part left to look after themselves. Because of this, the inmates of  San Pedro have jobs inside the community, buy or rent their accommodation and even invite their families to live with them. When a new inmate arrives at the facility, he has to pay an entrance fee. If they wish to sleep in a bed, they must either consult the “prison mayor” or bribe one of the prison’s “freelance real-estate agents”. Sounds fun right?

San Pedro Prison
Image Source: Danielle Pereira/flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Because there’s no control over what goes on inside within its walls, the prisoners have established a functioning society with government system. They even elect their own officials to serve each section inside the prison. If an inmate wants to start his own business in a section, he must get permission from the small council to make decisions for him.




Inmates in San Pedro Prison live together with their wives and children.

San Pedro Prison
Image Source: Wikimedia

Children are fragile and are highly observative to their surroundings. That’s why we create a calm and happy living condition around them. As scary as the thought itself is, there are about 200 children who live with their fathers in this place. The prison is filled with drug dealers, gangsters, murderers and people who were caught for many other offences. The inmates however do not appreciate rapists and child molesters. They are treated with a brutal zero-tolerance policy and any convicted felon who walks into the prison usually ends up drowned in the small swimming pool inside San Pedro Prison.

The prison also has sections that differentiate the poor and the rich.

In the poor sections, prisoners usually have to share their beds with another inmate. Each small space or room is usually confined with 4-5 people that sometimes use the floor as their beds.

Meanwhile, the luxurious La Posta sector politicians and drug lords live in luxury cells. They have their own private bathrooms, kitchens and cable televisions. Generally, living in the La Posta sector is expensive and not all are capable of affording it. The price range usually stands from $1,000 and $1,500 per month for a luxury room. How do they generate such amounts to afford luxury within the walls? They have their own economy.




See more amazing pictures from inside the prison on Page 2.

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