Vice Magazine editors selected “Prison Pit,” by Reportage contributor Giles Clarke, as one of its best features of 2013. In August, Vice published Giles’s pictures and article about El Salvador’s overcrowded prisons and their use of so-called “gang cages,” where prisoners from warring factions are held. According to a local police captain, the cages were built to be 72-hour holding cells, but some prisoners have lived in them for more than a year. Giles writes:
In a rancid, sweltering prison yard ringed by a high wall topped with barbed wire sat three cages. They stood about 12 feet wide and 15 feet tall—each crammed full of more than 30 human bodies. M18 and MS-13 each had their own cage, with the third reserved for “common criminals.” They were initially constructed to serve as 72-hour holding cells, but I was told that many of the inmates had been imprisoned in these pens for over a year. Most of their days are spent pulling apart their clothes and using the thread to sew together hammocks, where they sleep stacked on top of one another like cords of wood.
Read more of Giles’s account on Vice Magazine’s Web site.
(Photos by Giles Clarke/Getty Images)