Near the Bolivian mountain city of La Paz is a prison with 3,000 inmates that is rife with drugs, unsupervised children, and brutal punishments doled out by the prisoners themselves. All of this is possible because inmates run virtually everything internally. The only responsibility of the guards is to prevent escapes, but beyond that they interfere very little with the interactions of the prisoners.
This free-reign given to prisoners has made San Pedro prison one of the most dangerous prisons in the world.
The prison has become a hotbed for drug trafficking, as exposed in the bestselling book by Australian author and journalist Rusty Young.
Young uncovered the extent of the uncontrolled drug production, bribery of guards, and harsh subculture of the inmate-run prison life.
Prisoners pay room and board, work in various positions—such as cooking and cleaning jobs—and make money by making and selling cocaine.
There are droves of small children who roam throughout and live inside the walls of the prison compound. Apparently it is because the children, and the partners of the inmates, are better protected alongside them in the prison, instead of fending for themselves in the outside world.
Certain criminals face cruel punishments at the hands of their fellow inmates, even murder.
Sex offenders are often beaten, stabbed, and electrocuted to death in pools. The guards do nothing.
Click through the slideshow above to see some images from inside the prison walls. You can read more about this prison, how it self-sustains and why it functions as it does in Young’s book Marching Powder, available for purchase here.