The specter of imprisonment usually doesn't include poolside parties, dance clubs, weapons galore, and easy access to BlackBerries. But San Antonio penitentiary, located on Venezuela's Margarita Island, isn't usual. Though its 2,000 inmates risk being shot by guards if caught venturing outside the walls, the New York Times reports that those content with staying within their enforced bounds are afforded an unprecedented degree of luxury. And these are anything but white-collar criminals.
Though none of Venezuela's prisons are immune to overcrowding, corruption, and a shortage of professional guards, the prison on Margarita Island—a popular point of origination for drug shipments to the Caribbean and the US—is one of a kind. Prisoners essentially run the place, and members of the public regularly visit to gamble, buy drugs, and relax by one of the four prisoner-built pools. (The warden wouldn't discuss, but the Times has video.) Says one Russian woman serving a drug trafficking sentence: “This is the strangest place I’ve ever been.” It even makes this prison in Mexico look tame.