The Carcel Distrital, located in one of the most dangerous quarters of Bogotá, is a prison that houses nearly 950 men and 50 women, many of whom are still awaiting their final judgment. Unfortunately, justice in Colombia works slowly – very slowly. The long wait for a verdict leads to great frustration among the prisoners, and often results in disputes, fights, and even riots.
In a place where almost every inmate has something for which they could be punished, the 170 staff members of the prison have their hands full. They need to carry out unannounced raids and inspections of the inmates, and they must fight for power against prisoners.
The prisoners fight back. They play by their own rules – mostly illegal ones. Even in prison, they continue to take drugs, carry weapons, and conduct illicit transactions. The boss of the gang has people around him to do his jobs, such as acquiring drugs and weapons. If caught, the consequences can be solitary confinement, an extended sentence, or even visiting bans.
Support and help from family are crucial for the inmates, who, on visiting days, have two hours to pretend that everything is okay, to hold their children and loved ones. After precisely two hours, they have to bid farewell, not knowing when they will see them again.
The reality of life behind bars is bleak, and all inmates share one common goal: to get out as quickly as possible and never return. But they must fight for their freedom against both the slow course of justice and against their own criminal selves.
Watch the documentary about Carcel Distrital and witness the grim reality of life behind bars.