A Look into the Most Bizarre Prisons around the World
The notion of justice varies from culture to culture.
Some believe that rehabilitation is not only possible, but the best possible outcome for both the individuals and society at large. Others believe in justice more along the lines of ‘an eye for an eye.’
Here we explore some of the most bizarre prisons around the world – and how they reflect diverse perspectives on how justice should be carried out.
10. Justizzentrum Leoben Prison, Austria
The Justizzentrum Leoben prison, also commonly known as the Justice center Leovem, is an Austrian prison. But step inside of it, you would be none the wiser.
Thee luxurious building is home to 205 of Austria convicted criminals.
Some would even argue that it is miles better than a regular home and more similar to a five-star resort. It is an ultra-chic, beautiful and grand building that boasts a modern aesthetic with fantastic landscaping and amenities.
It was born of a philoshopy that rehabilitation comes from treating people well. Along the prison’s perimeter, and inscription reads: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
9. Halden Prison, Norway
Most prisons and detention facilities are known for violence and harsh treatment of prisoners. Some even resort to using unethical and inhumane tactics to ensure the inmates don’t cause a riot.
However, things are quite different in this Scandinavian prison. Often regarded as the world’s most humane prisons, Halden is a relaxing and peaceful environment, one not commonly associated with prisons.
The inmates in Halden receive hot coffee and good food every day. Plus, some of them even get private bathrooms and mini fridges, along with scenic views of nearby forests.
The prison was designed on the principle of community. The philosophy is that interpersonal relationships are the force of security instead of barbed wire fences and the like. Despite being home to convicted murderers and other violent crimes, inmates are free to move about without security devices, including walks outside.
To date, no prisoner has ever tried to escape.
8. Canto Grande Prison, Peru
The Canto Grande Prison, which some people also know as the ‘Shining Path” prison is located in Peru. What stands out most about this prison is that it bears a lot of resemblance with jails shown in films like No Escape or the Dark Knight Rises.
Yes, the inmates actually run this prison. This prison did have some guards – in the beginning. They initially became obsolete because the inmates staged a coup in 1992, effectively taking control of the prison. Once they had it, they decided to create their own schedules and rules.
7. Squirrel Cage Jail, United States
Located in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, the Squirrel Cage Jail closed down during the 1960s. The prison become popular because of its incredibly strange design and architecture. If you look at this jail from the outside, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. It just looks like your garden variety small town jail.
However, it’s anything but. This is because the jail has revolving, pie-shaped cells. There is only one actual opening from the cylindrical cage – the prisoner must be rotated into position to be seen or handed any goods. The concept was that it ensured maximum security and minimal supervision from the guards.
Initially, it was regarded as a revolutionary design, no pun intended. But after numerous serious injuries resulted from the rotating contraption, the jailhouse was abandoned in 1969.
6. Maricopa County Jail, United States
The Maricopa County Jail is located in Arizona, United States. Unlike the jails mentioned earlier, this one isn’t famous for its luxurious lifestyle, hospitality, or unique architectural design. The Maricopa County Jail became notorious because of its eccentric Sheriff, Joe Arpaio.
Joe is not like most Sheriffs. Some of his ideas around what constitutes reasonable treatment of inmates has raised some eyebrows.
Every prisoner in this jail, whether male or female, is kept inside a canvas tents exposed to the scorching heat of the Arizona desert, sometimes exceeding 110 degrees. At its peak, the Tent City, as it became known was home to 1,700 inmates. When the public found out about this, thousands Arizonians showed up at the Jail grounds to protest.
In 2017, the last inmates of Tent City were transferred to other detention facilities, and the area was officially shut down.
5. Kresty Prison, Russia
The Kresty prison is arguably the most inhumane prison in the world. Located in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Kresty prison was developed during the 1730s and resembles everything you have seen in the movies. It is gloomy, dark, and extremely overpopulated.
According to some reports, this prison held around 13,000 inmates during the 1990s, which is quite staggering considering the fact that it was constructed to support 1200 people.
Though it is slated for demolition upon the completion of a new prison, the new prison will take a page out of Kresty’s book: From an ariel perspective, the building will be in the shape of a cross.
4. Cebu Prison, The Phillipines
The Cebu Prison is located in the Philippines. There is a decent likelihood that you have already seen this jail without realizing it. That’s because the inmates of this prison gained worldwide popularity in 2007 when they choreographed a routine to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
The dance routine became viral on the internet garnering over 38 million views. Since the success of that video, Cebu Prison started promoting dancing as a method of rehabilitation.
Despite the fame, Cebu prison is well beyond its inmate capacity, and the overpopulation has translated into tough living conditions for detainees.
3. Aranjuez Prison, Spain
Prisons are the last place where children should be…right? The philosophy behind Aranjuez Prison puts this idea to the test.
Located in Spain, the Aranjuez prison houses some of the most vicious felons in Spain.
However, that is not what this jail is famous for.
Aranjuez Prison became well known for its unique policy allows inmates to live with their families. Aranjuez’s authorities took this step to allow children to bond with their jailed parents, while living a normal life. The grounds include a playground and a nursery. The concept is that kids should not be punished for the crimes of their parents through separation.
2. San Pedro Prison, Bolivia
San Pedro is a renowned tourist attraction as well as home to a thriving community. Within its walls, a full-on society has taken shape. While there are expressions of standard social hierarchy, at the end of the day. it’s every man for himself.
Here, the inmates run the show. They must buy their own cells and some cells are quite plush compared to others. Wealthier inmates can buy luxury items like Jacuzzi, cable television, private bathrooms, kitchens etc.
Like Aranjuez Prison, the family members of inmates are allowed to visit and stay with their incarcerated family members. There’s even a hotel on the prison’s grounds.
What’s most bizarre about this prison is that it doesn’t have any guards inside. While prison guards patrol the perimeter to ensure no prisoner escapes, they do not generally mange the day to day happenings within the prison’s walls. The inmates follow a self-devised system of laws and regulations.
1. The Fortezza Medicea Prison
The Fortezza Medicea Prison in Italy is known for its on-grounds restaurant run by the prison’s inmates. Some say that the cuisine served here rivals what you would find in a four-star fine dining restaurant.
Despite many of the inmates serving lifelong sentences for heinous crimes like murder, they are still able to participate in the prison’s restaurant rehabilitation program.
Patrons of the restaurant must first pass a background check and security checkpoints once they arrive. All the cutlery in the restaurant is plastic for safety purposes.
The prison’s restaurant is quite popular among locals and tourists alike. Reservations for a table must often be made weeks in advance.