Inside world’s toughest prison where inmates can be killed fighting for mattress

Tacumbu jail in Asuncion, ­the capital of Paraguay, is a place of extremes. Offering bars, shops selling caramel ­croissants and luxury laundry services, on one level it looks like a gangster’s paradise. But drug use is rife and inmates carry knives openly – with murder so common there is a killing every two weeks. And as most lags do not get a bed, you could easily die fighting for a mattress. Tacumbu is Paraguay’s most overcrowded jail – with 4,000 convicts and just 35 guards. And this means it is the convicts who are really running the show. “Tacumbu was shocking” says journalist Raphael Rowe, who lived there a week for his new series of Inside The World’s Toughest Prisons. “Prisoners openly use drugs and carry knives. They have to fend for themselves. There are very few guards. “Hundreds were sleeping out in the open, taking drugs – crystal meth, crack – openly in front of guards and each other. “In fact, authorities allowed it, almost encouraged it as it keeps the peace. Without it, there would be murderous reign.” Raphael has a unique outlook on prison life, as he served 12 years in the UK for a murder he… Read full this story

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