Isla Madre, in the Islas Marias Archipelago seventy miles off the coast Mexico, seems like a tropical paradise.
AERIAL VIEW Isla Madre
LV & CU prisoners, their families and warders on the beach (5 shots)
LV deserted watch-tower
SV INTERIOR warders relaxing on beds
SV prisoners relaxing in the sun
TRAVELLING SHOT through village on island
LV PULL BACK FROM garden TO prisoners villa
SV & CU INTERIOR bed, wireless and cosmetics (2 shots)
SV INTERIOR prisoner and wife relaxing on bed
SV guard on patrol
SV & CU priosner serving 14 years during smuggling sentence feeding chickens with wife
SV INTERIOR mother-in-law washing up
LV another prisoner's house
SCU INTERIOR young prisoner serving thirty years murder term relaxing in hammock
SV prisoners caring for horses
SV & CU prisoner serving 30 year murder sentence tending pigs
CU prisoners serving 15 years looks on
TRACKING SHOT FROM cola bottle TO prisoner reading in open fronted "villa"
LV EXTERIOR prisoners entering island shop
CU chop signs and shoes on display (2 shots)
SV PAN prisoner rides donkey past church
ISLAND: PRISONERS AND CAURDS RELAXING ON THE BEACH: DESERTED WATCHTOWER: VARIOUS VIEWS OF RELAXED LIFE ON ISLAND INCLUDING PRISONERS WITH THEIR FAMILIES, GUARDS IN HAMMOCKS, PRISONERS TENDING LIVESTOCK, PRISONERS' "VILLAS", PRISON SHOP AND GOODS ON SALE.
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Background: Isla Madre, in the Islas Marias Archipelago seventy miles off the coast Mexico, seems like a tropical paradise.
And it's hard to believe that the people living there are actually murderers, drug smugglers and robbers, serving sentences of up to thirty years in idyllic surroundings with their families for company, no bars at the windows, guards taking life easy in hammocks, and no-one on duty in the watchtower.
It wasn't always like that.
In 1905, Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz turned the island into an escape-proof nightmare for dangerous criminals and political prisoners... similar to Devil's Island in French Ouiana, South America.
But when Luis Echeverria became President, he immediately set out to improve the lot of prisoners, and in 1970 passed a law giving them better conditions. Isla Madre was first on the list.
There are 1000 prisoners on the island, many of whom have their families with them.
One hundred marines, 50 technicians and other Government employees, two priests and six schoolteachers make up the prison staff.
Many of the prisoners are allowed to build their own houses, and all are paid a salary for work they do in various agricultural projects. A ceramics factory and a clothing factory are soon to be built on the island.
The "prisoners" take life easily, spending considerable time relaxing in the sun, as do their guards.
A small gun-boat makes regular patrols of the island, and is one of the few outward signs that Isla Madre is a prison.