Prison: Buen Pastor (Good Shepard) Women’s Prison
City: Bogota, Colombia
Title: Reina Madre (Queen Mother)
The Prize: Nationally televised Colombian fame
Held on a holiday to honor the Virgin Mercedes – the patron saint of prisoners – this contest combines two of Colombia’s biggest passions: beauty pageants and drug trafficking. Most of the women at Buen Pastor are there for moving narcotics, and each cell block nominates a representative to compete in the prison’s giant atrium in front of a nationally-televised audience. The pageant is judged by TV personalities, soccer stars, military leaders, and other celebrities, then followed by a giant masquerade ball, which the prison staff surprisingly describes as “the most peaceful time of the year”.
Prison: Women’s Prison of Santa Monica
City: Lima, Peru
Title: None, but could be "Miss Incarcerated Universe". Most inmates (and winners) are internationals held on drug trafficking charges.
The Prize: Nothing. Not even a court date, as 794 of 927 inmates are still awaiting trial.
This hotbed of the drug trade has attracted women from all over the world looking to make a quick buck, then getting all "Brokedown Palaced" at the airport. Winners have hailed form Dominica, Thailand, Holland, among other nations, and are required to be on good behavior, attend therapy, and take classes in cosmetology, drawing, and fabric painting before being allowed to compete.
Prison: Santa Teresa Prison
City: Guatemala City, Guatemala
The Prize: None. With only 135 inmates who can afford it?
Even though they're working from a small talent pool, the entire inmate population of Santa Teresa turns out (along with invited friends and family) for this annual pageant held to commemorate “International Day of the Inmate”. Contestants compete in ankle-high leather stiletto spike boots, which might be used as weapons if the judges weren’t all prison authorities.