La Sabaneta | The Worst Prisons in the World

La Sabaneta

As with most prisons around the world, Venezuela’s most notorious correctional facility suffers from overpopulation. Originally built to house 700 inmates, La Sabaneta is now home to 3,700 prisoners who are guarded by a measly 40 prison guards. The inmates are forced to string up a slew of hammocks overhead in their overcrowded 8x12 feet cells to allow sleeping space for all. Others sleep on the floor elbow to elbow. Prisoners bathe from the same water bucket in a corner, and relieve themselves in plastic bags they toss out a barred window onto an open-air patio. Violence is rampant and necessary for survival. Nearly all the inmates carry knives for protection; those who don’t, risk being cut down. Fierce riots are frequent in La Sabaneta. In 1994, 108 prisoners died in a gun battle in just one of the many riots registered at this house of horrors, while fires, murders and beheadings also occur regularly. Crumbling facilities and prison services also pose a problem: drinking water from corroded bathroom pipes is rife with bacteria and parasites; medical care is minimal; prisoners stitch their own wounds. Cases of AIDS, tuberculosis and typhoid are not rare.

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