30 worst prisons in the world in 2022: What happens in these prisons?

30 worst prisons in the world in 2022: What happens in these prisons?

Prisons are an essential part of the global justice system. Inside these facilities, criminals are barred from interacting with the public and given the punishment they deserve. Sometimes, though, what happens in some prisons is quite shocking. Problems such as human rights violations, diseases, and riots are synonymous with the worst prisons in the world.

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top 10 worst prisons in the world
A view inside Alcatraz prison. Photo: pixabay.com, @MarcelloRabozzi
Source: UGC

The world's most cruel prisons often break even the hardest of criminals. What are the most brutal prisons in the world?

What are the worst prisons in the world?

Here is a look at the worst prisons in the world in 2022.

30. La Sante Prison, France

The conditions at this Paris-based facility are some of the worst in the world. In 2002, 122 inmates committed suicide, followed by another 73 in 2003. Most of the suicides happened by swallowing drain cleaners, an option that was seen to be less horrendous than enduring the horrendous prison conditions.

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29. Tadmor Military Prison, Syria

Located in Palmyra, Syria, Tadmor is one of the most oppressive jails globally. Amnesty International reported that every aspect of the facility's design was done to dehumanize inmates. Guards have the freedom to do anything, including killing.

In June 1980, President Hafez al-Assad ordered guards to execute every inmate in sight after he survived an attack. The institution was shut down in 2001 but opened its doors again in 2011, but the brutal conditions have not changed.

28. La Sabaneta Prison, Venezuela

what are the worst prisons in the world
A view inside a prison cell. Photo: pexels.com, @RODNAE Productions
Source: UGC

Venezuela is known for having some of the most violent activities in the world, with reports showing more than 1,000 annual killings. Its jails are even worse, with most of them being run by armed inmates. La Sabaneta is overcrowded and has high disease infections.

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Corruption is also rampant, with jail guards giving wealthy and powerful inmates preferential treatment. The lucky group sleeps on beds while the others use a hammock in the jail corridors. Additionally, there is no daily routine, which results in extreme violence, as the inmates behave the way they want.

The facility is also greatly understaffed, with a 1:150 guard to inmate ratio, which makes it one of the most dangerous prisons in the world.

27. Diyarbakir Prison, Turkey

Severe overcrowding and extreme human rights violations characterize this Turkey-based jails's atmosphere, with many inmates committing suicide. Families and loved ones that visit the inmates are not allowed to say a word about the prison's conditions as this will be used as a reason for punishment against their members inside the jail.

26. Mendoza Prison, Argentina

This facility in Argentina is overcrowded, with five inmates sharing a four-square meter cell. Inmates are also forced to use bottles and plastic bags as toilets due to the lack of a proper sewage system. Inmates have no access to medication and are only seen by a doctor upon their death.

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25. El Rodeo, Venezuela

Another entry from Venezuela comes with El Rodeo, a maximum-security facility that holds around 5,0000 of the most violent criminals in Venezuela. The prison is located a few miles outside the country's capital city Caracas.

Gang violence and rioting are commonplace inside the jail, and the armed forces have even had to be called in occasionally to put an end to the never-ending gang wars.

24. Black Beach Prison, Equatorial Guinea

You can never be ready for what is to come if some twist of fate lands you inside Black Beach Prison. Inmates are subject to overcrowding, chronic diseases, malnutrition, incessant guard brutality, and untellable torture.

The facility also has rampant cases of rat infestation, making one's sentence many times worse.

23. Carandiru Penitentiary, Brazil

worst prisons in the world in 2022
Inside a single-person prison cell. Photo: pexels.com, @Ron Lach
Source: UGC

While no longer operational, this prison is widely remembered as one of the worst in the world. 111 inmates were shot dead in a 1992 prison massacre. The health situation was also terrible, with one in every five inmates being diagnosed with HIV.

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Before it was decommissioned, the facility had become so overcrowded that inmates lived under their own terms and could easily overpower the few available guards.

22. Hoeryong Concentration Camp (Camp 22), North Korea

This political prison camp was constructed in 1965 in North Korea, but its existence was kept a secret for decades until satellite photography revealed its presence. The institution holds more than 50,000 inmates, including women, men, and children. The inmates are often tortured and malnourished and made to toil in mines and fields 12 hours a day.

21. Attica Correctional Facility, USA

This IS maximum-security correctional facility for males. It is located in Attica, New York, and has a long history of strife, having experienced multiple riots since it first opened its doors in 1930. One of the worst incidents in the correctional facility was in 1971, when more than 2,000 inmates were driven to take 42 staff members hostage after enduring years of appalling conditions.

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20. The Gldani Prison, Georgia

The Gldani Prison was once a place where human torture was normal. In 2012, Georgian television channels released video footage showing recordings of inmates being tortured, beaten, and raped by the prison staff.

The worldwide broadcast resulted in protests being orchestrated by students and the general public of Georgia.

19. Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, Kenya

Kamiti prison is a maximum-security detention facility located in Kahawa West, near the country's capital. The facility houses Kenyan inmates known for going through inhumane treatment and living in conditions deemed unfit for human survival.

The sheer scarcity of resources, hot weather, and overcrowding result in the development of violent behaviour among the inmates.

18. San Quentin State Prison, USA

inside the world's toughest prisons
An inmate behind bars. Photo: pexels.com @RODNAE Productions
Source: UGC

The San Quentin State Prison is the oldest prison in California. Over the years, it has been home to a mind-numbing number of rapists and serial killers. Today, it is the only jail in California that has a gas chamber and death row.

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In 2006, one of the death row inmates cut off a guard's arm to the bone as he was being uncuffed. In the same year, more than 100 inmates were injured as a result of some violent racially-motivated attacks. For several years, the facility has been synonymous with violence.

17. Rikers Island, USA

While most dangerous prisons tend to have violent inmates, that is not the case with Rikers Island. Instead, the biggest problem at the facility has something to do with the guards. After years of unconfirmed allegations of systematic abuse (including more than 6 lawsuits for guard-sanctioned violence), the New York Times ran an expose on Rikers Island.

The expose did not do much good to the situation at the facility, though. Years later, it was found that more than 100 inmates had come to serious harm at the hands of the correctional officers. Most of the inmates were also diagnosed with different mental illnesses.

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16. Lurigancho Prison, Peru

The inmates at Lurigancho Prison have been said to spend their days using the latest technology available in the black market, watching cockfighting, and doing dr*gs. The inmates reportedly even have the occasional visit from 'attorneys' and 'nurses.'

The facility is inarguably one of the harshest South American prisons since there are hardly any guards in the area to control the over 7,000 inmates there. The facility was initially designed for only 2,500 inmates, but now it holds more than 11,000.

15. ADX-Florence Supermax Facility, USA

A supermax prison offers a higher level of custody and surveillance as compared to a maximum-security prison. ADX-Florence Supermax Facility is located in Colorado, USA, and is known for holding some of the worst criminals in American history.

ADX is said to be escape-proof and housed more than 340 prisoners as of July 2021. All inmates are kept under 24-hour surveillance and 23-hour confinement.

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14. Bang Kwang Central Prison, Thailand

There are very few jails with conditions worse than Bang Kwang Central Prison. Overcrowded and with a reputation as one of the worst prisons in the world in terms of inmate abuse, Bang Kwang Central Prison is notoriously famous.

The facility was initially designed to hold a maximum of 3,500 inmates. Today, the number of inmates is way over the initially intended number. With more than 8,000 inmates, the facility has become extremely overcrowded. More than 10% of the inmates are on death row.

13. Arthur Road Jail, India

What are the top 10 worst prisons in the world?
A book atop a prison cell bed. Photo: pexels.com @RODNAE Productions
Source: UGC

This facility is also known as the Mumbai Central Prison. It is Mumbai's largest and oldest correctional facility and is known for being highly overcrowded and understaffed. Gang wars are the norm of the day and have occasionally resulted in inmates' injury and even deaths.

Like other dangerous jails, Arthur Road Jail was designed to accommodate about 800 inmates but now houses more than 2000.

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12. Gitarama Prison, Rwanda

This facility in Rwanda is one of the most crowded across the globe. The institution was made to hold up to 400 inmates but currently has over 7,000. Most of the inmates are suspects of the infamous 1994 genocide.

The inmates have no choice but to stand barefoot on the filthy ground. This results in foot rot, which in most cases needs amputation, but the facility has one full-time doctor. Nearly half a dozen deaths happen every day as a result. Inmates have also been said to kill and eat each other.

11. Petak Island Prison, Russia

The jail housed the 'enemies of the revolution' during Joseph Stalin's reign. As a result, the facility is widely known as the 'Alcatraz of Russia.' Inside its hallowed halls are some of Russia's most dangerous criminals, most of whom will come out in a far worse mental state than they went in with.

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According to correctional facility experts, Petak Island was 'designed to destroy a person's mind.' One cannot leave that prison without a mental illness or, at the very best, on the brink of one.

10. Butyrka Prison, Russia

What are the top 10 worst prisons in the world? Butyrka Prison starts off the list. It is located in the Tverskoy District of Moscow. It was built during the Soviet period and housed numerous political inmates. The conditions inside the prison are less than inhuman. For example, a 10-person jail cell now holds 100 inmates.

As one might expect, diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS are some huge concerns in the facility, primarily due to overcrowding.

9. Black Dolphin Prison, Russia

The Black Dolphin Prison is located near the Russia-Kazakhstan border and is home to Russia's most hardened and dangerous criminals. Some of the inmates include paedophiles, cannibals, and terrorists.

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When the inmates arrive at the facility, they are blindfolded and handcuffed behind their backs. These moves are part of a strategy to prevent inmates from mapping out the facility and, as a result, reduce the chances of escaping.

8. Ciudad Barrios Prison, El Salvador

Which country has the harshest prisons?
A top view of prison cells. Photo: pexels.com @Xiaoyi
Source: UGC

The Ciudad Barrios Prison is home to members of the notorious MS-13 gang. Shockingly, the guard-inmate ratio is an appalling 1:50. This means the inmates technically run the prison whichever way they please. Similar to the situation in other understaffed jails, the ratio results in numerous atrocities, including murders and torture.

7. Pelican Bay State Prison, USA

While most inmates in dangerous jails suffer physical harm, the Pelican Bay State Prison was designed to inflict psychological damage on inmates. The facility was commissioned in 1989 and sits on a 275-acre piece of land. The facility has two distinct wings, the general population and the dreaded Security Housing Unit (SHU).

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The cells have no windows in the SHU, and one spends their solitary life illuminated by fluorescent bulbs. It is essentially a housing unit meant to break every ounce of an inmate's willpower, making this one of the top 10 worst prisons in the world.

6. Stanley Prison, Hong Kong

The Stanley Prison was built before World War II and is home to some of Hong Kong's worst drug dealers, murderers, rapists, and other assorted gangsters. There are close to zero chances of escaping this maximum-security prison. This is largely attributable to the huge body of water surrounding most of the facility.

5. Drapchi (Lhasa) Prison, Tibet

This is the largest jail facility in Tibet, China and is world-famous for its mismanagement and human brutality reports. The situation is so bad that inmates reportedly cannot look at guards the wrong way, or they'd risk getting beaten or shot.

Drapchi (Lhasa) Prison was initially designed as a military garrison but was later redesigned to what it is now after the Tibetan uprising of 1959. If inmates participate in any protest, they are typically beaten to death, making this one of the scariest prisons in the world.

4. Complex Penitentiary Anísio Jobim (COMPAJ), Brazil

In 2017, the Complex Penitentiary Anísio Jobim (COMPAJ) saw one of the most brutal prison riots in recent history. The riot was spurred by two warring factions: The First Command of the Capital and The Family of the North.

The riot saw 56 inmates lose their lives.

3. La Modelo, Columbia

most dangerous prisons in the world
A guard standing outside a prison cell. Photo: pexels.com @Ron Lach
Source: UGC

La Modelo is a prison in Bogota, Columbia. It consists of two wings; the south wing holds the right-wing government supporters, and the north wing holds the left-wing rebels. The space separating the two wings is a battleground renowned for massacres when members of the two wings fight.

The facility guards do not carry weapons inside the jail, even though the inmates have access to firearms and explosives. Yes, explosives. In 2020, a riot broke out, resulting in more than 20 inmate deaths.

2. Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, Cuba

Few jails have been mentioned in human rights discussions as much as Guantanamo Bay has. The facility is often the subject of heated discussions surrounding torture, detention without trial, sexual abuse, and waterboarding.

Detainees have often protested their indefinite detention at the facility, forced feeding to avoid hunger strikes, and other human rights violations.

1. Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, USA

While no longer an active prison, there is a reason the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is the subject of numerous films, books, and television shows. Also known as 'the rock,' Alcatraz was one of the scariest jails in the world.

The facility is now a museum and is located on a tiny island smack in the middle of San Francisco Bay. The strong currents and icy waters surrounding the jail made it almost impossible to escape. Those who tried were either caught or drowned in the ocean.

Which country has the harshest prisons?

A large chunk of the world's toughest prisons, including Petak Island, Vladimir Central, Black Dolphin, and Butyrka, is found in Russia. Corruption, psychological destruction, infections, extreme cold, and brutality are prevalent.

Who is the most dangerous prisoner in the world?

Robert Maudsley is one of the most dangerous inmates locked up in solitary confinement in a glass box at the Wakefield Prison in the UK. He went to jail for a single murder in 1974 but has committed three more while serving time in jail. His victims were child molesters and abusers, as he had experienced abuse as a child.

What is the biggest jail in the world?

Rikers Island in New York City is the most extensive prison, covering 413 acres. In terms of population, the Los Angeles County jail has the largest prison system, with about 19,836 inmates.

Raphael Rowe and Inside the World's Toughest Prisons

top 10 worst prisons in the world
A promotional poster of the Inside the World's Toughest Prisons show. Photo: @prisonsnetflix
Source: Instagram

Raphael Rowe is a world-famous British broadcast journalist. He spent 12 years in a maximum-security prison following a wrongful conviction. After his release, his experience inspired him to start the hugely popular Netflix show Inside the World's Toughest Prisons.

The show explores the human side of prisoners who have committed the most heinous crimes.

The worst prisons in the world are synonymous with gang violence, riots, diseases, malnutrition, overcrowding, and the occasional torture. These facilities represent the worst side of the justice systems in different parts of the world.

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