30 Nov 2015

What Daily Life Is Like Inside Latin America's Toughest Prison (17 pics)

La Modelo is the most notorious prison in Nicaragua and also the most brutal in Latin America. Trying to survive a day in here is truly like trying to survive a day in hell.

Brutal life: Boxing matches on the wings are a way of passing the time - and also entertainment for all the inmates

Drugs: What appears to be marijuana is bagged up by prisoners. The drugs trade is the backdrop to their incarceration

Ingenious: Drugs smugglers go to great lengths to get the prisoners their fixes, hollowing out a banana and using the soles of shes

Sweltering: The inmates spend their days in the un-air conditioned wings, where they sit in their different gang affiliations. The crowds have gathered to watch television

Break from the boredom: Prisoners gather round a television for some entertainment

Highs and lows: On the left, a prisoner left brutalized and wounded in a beating. But they also find ways to relax, with one man (right) making a reptile his pet

Squalid: All life is on the wings, including drying the washing. Washing is done using water from the same hole in the floor which acts as a toilet

Gang affiliation: Gang signs and tattoos are used to delineate which group men are members of

Tedium: Each 15ft by 15ft cell is packed with eight men, who have to spend hour after hour banged up alongside each other

Recreation time: When they are let out of their cells, life takes place on the wings. Designed in the 1950s as - literally - a model prison, La Modelo has become a byword for violence

Audience: Prisoners gather to see a boxing match between two other inmates. Violence is part of everyday life



Outside time: The hard-packed earth of the exercise yard offers some view of the outside world. The prison is close to the Nicaraguan capital

Friends: A group of men pose for the camera smuggled into prison to record conditions there

All is not as it seems: A 'cake' send into an inmate turns out to be a device to bring in contraband - most likely drugs

Light relief: It looks like a bare knuckle fight but in fact the prisoners are break dancing for amusement on one of the wings

Squalid: Food is prepared in the same part of the cell as where the washing is done. Inmates complain it bears little resemblance to proper cooking


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