It has a swimming pool, overnight accommodation for guests, plenty of places to drink and even somewhere to treat yourself to some tasty barbecue chicken.
But this is no fancy tourist attraction or a resort, it’s a prison.
Welcome to Venezuela’s San Antonio Prison, the place that’s so nice and comfortable that many inmates never want to leave.
One inmate, Ricardo, a drug trafficker, tells SBS Dateline reporter Giovana Vitola how good they really do have it.
“I found a restaurant, I found a place with barbecued chicken. There are places to drink. It is not like a prison,” he says.
Vitola was given unprecedented access to the place criminals in Venezuela dream about being sent to.
Her footage, which was shot entirely on her iPhone and airs on
Dateline tonight, reveals the relative comfort inmates enjoy while
As guards walk carefree around the facility, inmates and guests can
be seen dancing, enjoying a barbecue and even swimming in the pool with
their partners and families.
Vitola was given access by the criminal in charge of the prison known as “The Rabbit”.
Her footage goes on to show how many inmates live comfortably while
there for the duration of their sentences and others who have it so good
they don’t want to leave.
One woman shown on the footage reveals how inmates have access to “guns, drugs and everything”.
But the unusual take on prison reform isn’t without its critics with
many questioning how the culture of guns, violence and drugs is allowed
to take place.
It’s not the first time the prison has made headlines.
In April it was revealed San Antonio, located on the Venezuelan
island of Margarita, opened a nightclub for inmates complete with DJs,
lights and even strippers.
Iris Varela, who runs the country’s prison system, defended the move
saying it reduced violence and improved quality of life for inmates, Fox News Latino reported.
Venezuela’s prisons are notorious for having the highest levels of overcrowding in Latin America.
Originally built to house 14,000 inmates, the country’s prisons now
hold about 50,000 and often have low sanitary standards and high levels
Riots are also not uncommon. In August last year, at least 25 people
were killed and 43 wounded during a clash between rival gangs in Yare I
prison near Caracas while in June 2011, dozens died in a riot that
erupted at El Rodeo prison.
This story originally appeared on News.com.au.