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It is the strangest prison in the world, where drugs are mass-produced, children roam free and prisoners dish out a brutal mode of self-styled justice.
In the heart of the mountainous La Paz city in west Bolivia sits San Pedro prison, where 3000 male inmates call the shots virtually sovereign from external guards, whose only job is policing escapes.
San Pedro was made famous by the book Marching Powder in 2003, and for the first time it’s author-Australian journalist Rusty Young-has returned inside its walls for Seven’s Sunday Night.
The outside of San Pedro prison in the mountainous La Paz city, where inmates run the show
The book, which remains a bestseller, lifted the lid on the drug-trafficking that runs rampant in the prison, and it appeared that little had changed in the 12 years since it was published
Prisoners must pay for their own rooms and food, carrying out work as kitchen hands, cooks, cleaners, and convenience store owners-but the real money to be made remains in narcotics.
With no law enforcement patrolling the interior and guards accepting bribes to access supplies, drug production is rife, with some of the purest cocaine in the country made and sold inside.
Another bizarre feature which exists alongside the drugs is the children, who can be seen frolic throughout the prison in droves.
Families live alongside the inmates, such as this eight-year-old son of a convicted drug trafficker
Young children roam freely in the prison yard alongside dangerous convicts
Drug production is unbridled with some of the purest cocaine in the country made inside the prison
The brutal prison often sees violence, with sex offenders in particular singled out for punsihment
Violence can escalate within the walls of the prison to the extent the police have to intervene
At one stage an eight-year-old-boy is shown happily playing videogames in the room of one of the inmates.
The premise is the children and partners of the inmates are safer inside the prison than being sitting ducks on the impoverished streets outside.
But they often fall victim inside too, with reports a 12-year-old girl fell pregnant after being raped by a group of men inside the prison in 2013.
These offences do not go unpunished, with rapists and child molesters treated with a brutal zero-tolerance policy by the inmates 'council'.
A shallow concrete well where sex offenders are beaten, stabbed and electrocuted to death in front of a baying crowd
The econmical upkeep of the prison means it is supported by the impoverished Bolivian government
Lynch mobs drag offenders to a shallow concrete well where they are beaten, stabbed and electrocuted to death in front of a baying crowd, as was depicted in a harrowing scene in Marching Powder.
Proving infamous to the residents of San Pedro, the program was cut short when Young was forced to flee after inmates started to threaten him.
While the prison may seem uncivilised to outsiders, the fact it is funded by inmates makes it a cheap model for a government in one of the poorest nations in South America.
Australian journalist Rusty Young, who brought the prison international infamy with his 2003 book Marching Powder