A Horrifying Look at Some of the Worst Prisons in the World

Going to prison is never pretty. You should’ve thought twice before hitting your ex girlfriend with an extension cord for not having dinner ready before you got home. Between the prospect of making license plates for 13 cents an hour, getting shanked in a prison riot, and fending off Big Felix in the showers by giving him your fruit cocktail after every lunch, daily life in the slammer is as bad as it can get in this life.

However, it can be worse, it can get MUCH worse. These nefarious modern day dungeons make the Shawshank Redemption look like a picnic.

ADX Florence (Florence, Colorado)

A Clean Version of Hell

The United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, adoringly known as ADX Florence and the Alcatraz of the Rockies by those in the biz, is a fortress of a prison built to house the most dangerous criminals in the United States.

Constructed in 1983 as a response to inmates that killed their guards at another federal penitentiary due to lax regulations, the hardened felons at ADX Florence are isolated and nearly in permanent lock down. Beautifully situated in remote Florence, in central Colorado, the 430 odd prisons serving time are the worst offenders in the federal prison system.

What Makes It So Bad?

Well, first of all the people serving time here, as aforementioned, are the scum of the world. If you get sent here you are truly screwed. 22% of inmates in ADX Florence have killed prisoners in other facilities, 35% have attempted to attack other prisoners or officers, and many are mass murdering psychopaths.

Inmates include Theodore Kaczynski (The Unabomber), Anthony Casso (under bossssss of Lucchese crime family), Terry Nichols (Oklahoma City bombing conspirator), the deceased Timothy McVeigh, Robert Hanssen (former senior FBI agent who sold state secrets to the Russkies), and various Islamic terrorists including Ramzi Yousef and Richard Reid.

As a result, many never interact with any other human beings other than guards. Inmates stay in in a 7ft by 12 ft cell in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, with one hour exercise in a different concrete chamber or an empty concrete swimming pool under armed guard. The cell’s furniture is made out of concrete, including a desk, stool, and bed. In addition, there is a toilet that shuts off automatically if clogged, a shower that runs on a timer to prevent flooding, and a sink with no trap.

The only view of the outside is a 4 inch by 4 inch window that prevents the prisoner from knowing their exact location within the prison because the only view is the sky. Escape is literally impossible. Aside from over a thousand remote controlled steel doors, there are: 12 ft fences laced with barbed wire; laser beams, pressure pads, and attack dogs in the area between the prison walls and the outer fence; and many, many motion detectors.

What makes it so bad is the sensory deprivation of the inmates. Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park Bomber, said that the prison, “Using solitary confinement, Supermax is designed to inflict as much misery and pain as is constitutionally permissible.”

Rudolph also stated that the prison, “Is a closed-off world designed to isolate inmates from social and environmental stimulate, with the ultimate purpose of causing mental illness and chronic physical condition such as diabetes.” A former warden described the prison as a “clean version of hell.

La Santé Prison (Paris, France)

La Sante

Built in 1867 in what is now southwestern Paris, La Santé Prison is the most notorious prison in France. La Santé has a long and ominous history. The prison served as the main location in Paris where the French government put prisoners to death. In the early 1900s until public executions were banned in 1939, prisoners convicted to die were executed publicly via guillotine on the street right beyond the prison walls. Prisoners were executed at La Santé until 1979.

What Makes it So Bad?

What can be so bad about a French prison that doesn’t execute its prisoners anymore? What, they don’t serve French bread and a fine Bordeaux to inmates? According to Dr. Veronique Vassuer, a former prison doctor who came out with a controversial book on the subject, conditions for inmates were wretched and deplorable.

First, France doesn’t have such a thing as habeas corpus, so some stayed more than four months in crowded conditions without even being charged. Prisoners carried skin diseases because they were only allowed to shower twice a week in spite of living in 100 degree conditions in their cells.

Another skin disease, caused by eating rotten food, has not been seen anywhere else in France since the Second World War. Rats so infested the prison that inmates had to shove sheets and clothes in every crack of their cells to keep them out. 124 inmates committed suicide in 1999, about 5 times the amount in all of California’s prisons.

A petition by former prisoners deploring the conditions also cited, “Foul cells, systematic rape, humiliation of visiting families, crude health care, drug dealing by guards and detention of young offenders in cells with seasoned criminals have turned prisons into factories of crime and misery.”

Dr. Vassuer also wrote about “rapes, bizarre self-mutilations, attempted suicides and the practice of turning the weakest cellmates into slaves.” One 21 year old prisoner was raped by his two older cellmates on his first night in prison, one of whom had AIDS. Guards also tortured prisoners, sold drugs, and raped prisoners themselves. My God, this sounds so awful.

Black Beach (Malabo, Equatorial Guinea)

black beach

Widely considered one of if not the worst prison on the continent of Africa, Black Beach prison is one place you don’t want to be. Recently several Westerners were convicted of plotting to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea, and were so afraid of being murdered and tortured there they furiously appealed their sentences, many to no avail. Although one, Simon Mann, was later pardoned for “humanitarian” reasons by the government, his fears and the others were well founded.

What Makes it so Bad?

If third world hell hole isn’t enough to scare you, Black Beach has a wide array of trecherous accomodations that will make your skin crawl. Prisoners are routinely denied rudimentary medical attention and subsist on meager rations. Some inmates starve to death. Torture is common. One Western coup plotter officially died of “cerebral malaria with complications”, but other inmates claim he was beaten to death.

Other than the starvation and physical torture, inmates are shackled with handcuffs and ankle chains for most of the day, are rarely allowed out of their cells, and a lack of basic hygiene that leads to disease.

Camp 1391 (Between Hadera and Afula, Israel)

camp 1391

The ADX Florence of the state of Israel, Camp 1391 holds what it considers the most dangerous and high risk inmates in the country. It is also shrouded in mystery. Its existence wasn’t even known before 2003, and was located accidentally by a historian investigating old police buildings. It did not appear on any modern maps and was airbrushed out of aerial photos.

What Makes it so Bad?

Well, considering the Israeli government kept its very existence secret for decades and many consider Camp 1391 to be “the Israeli Guantanamo”, Camp 1391 is not your average summer camp for kids.

No, this prison, surrounded by concrete walls, iron gates, and defended by attack dogs and armed guards, is a place were you don’t want to be. When prisoners arrive they don’t even know where they are, they are are told they are in a submarine, on the moon, or other outlandish places.

Inmates’ claims of abuse include rape and being sodomized with a stick, solitary confinement in dark dirty cells, complete with a bucket for a toilet that was emptied only after a couple of days, subjected to sleep deprivation and other invasive interrogation techniques. The Israeli military refuses access to the Red Cross, lawyers, and even members of Israel’s parliament! The government’s response: “”Facility 1391 is situated on a secret military base. The base is used by the security services for various classified activities and thus its location is kept confidential.”

Moral of the story? Be good girls and boys.

Leave a Comment

  1. Well, isn't this lovely. Having visited Folsom Prison (of Johnny Cash fame) several times, I thought I was well acquainted with the condition of prisons.

    But, recently having to told of the maximum prisons in Massachusetts and now these, I no longer feel I know anything.

    With over one hundred suicides in a prison in a place ironically named La Sante in France in one year, one wonders what the term "Christian Country" actually means.

  2. secret says:

    This was a horribly written article, extremely vague, repetitive, and mildly interesting. I want my 5 minutes back.

  3. DRock hicks says:

    nah, this article was pretty fuckin great in my opinion

  4. lauren says:

    Visit Russia and the former Soviet Union prisons and you'll know what hell really is.

  5. coachp23 says:

    I would never just visit a prison unless i was a penologist or something and stay at any maximum security prison and you'll know what hell is

  6. UNDERCOVER says:

    1: Carandiru Penitentiary Prison
    2: Miguel Castro Castro Prison
    3: Guantanamo Bay prison
    4: ADX Florence Supermax Facility
    5: Tadmor Military Prison, Syria
    6: 0WK Prison Czech Republic

  7. vinny says:

    The most severe prisons are going to be in places like North Korea and Syria. Places where the guards will be more fearsome than the inmates, and there will be no legal system to save you. In countries like these its not that anyone turns a blind eye to your plight. Its that the guards are encouraged and even forced to break you down physically and mentally. While none of these places listed above are places you want to ever be, at least in there you will get out once you serve your sentence. That gives you a glimmer of hope. In these two countries you will never be seen or heard from again if you enter the prison system

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Actually, I visited many Syrian prisons and I wouln't say they are worse than the Israeli ones. North Korea experiments and tortures their prisoners. While in Israel they have 80-100 torture methods and the worse part is you don't know what your charged with. The rest of Middle Eastern prisons are actually quite sanitary ( this have been approved by doctors,lawyers, the U.N., and U.S. government) and the only torture method are 20 lashes, but that is usually reserved for terrorists/spys.

  9. Jeff says:

    Devils Island French Guiana was a real "fun place" but luckily it has been out of "service" since the late 40's I beleive.