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Football, Cocaine, Freedom: The Most Interesting Jail in the World.

Football, Cocaine, Freedom: The Most Interesting Jail in the World.


Episode -2

“Men mill about, exchanging pleasantries. Women carry sacks of food or roast mast on gas stoves. Small girls are laughing and playing hopscotch. Young boys are shining shoes.” This is every street in the world. However, However, Architectural Review is describing San Pedro, a jail in Bolivia.

Heavenly jail

San Pedro is one of the strangest jails in the World. There are churches, market stalls, and restaurants inside the complex. If you are an inmate, you have to buy a cell from the 8 housing sections inside. A basic cell costs you $10 monthly, a bigger cell is $1,000 and a luxury one is $8,400.

Brokers and landlords exist within this system. Prisoners have to work to earn money. This male jail was originally built for 600 prisoners but now holds 3,000, not counting the women and children who live with their men inside.

There are two nurseries for children inside the jail. Around 80% of the inmates are in for drug-related offenses. Naturally, there is also an in-house cocaine factory within San Pedro. There is also a football league with its teams, and good football player-prisoners can make a lot of money.

Rules inside the prison are enforced by elected leaders (richest prisoners). The punishment is usually a stabbing. On average, 4 people die every month. In 2013 a 12-year old girl living with her father was raped and got pregnant. Overcrowding makes it unhygienic.

There is also an illegal tourism industry that flourishes within San Pedro. A lot of tourists come to see this ‘autonomous’ jail, though now large-scale tourism is banned. Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America, and its officials are very corrupt.
It has everything: Politics, real estate, drugs, and football.


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Reading Room India is an Instagram-based short blogging page. Read Episode 1 

Image courtesy: Architectural Review

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