There are now over 8.5 million men, women and children in prison. Some are just being held; others have been convicted and sentenced. Half of this number is in three countries: the US,Russia and China. The conditions of each prison vary from country to country, with some no different than hotels with locked doors to those no better than a hole in the ground.
www.restorativejustice.org/resources/docs Daniel W. Van Ness 24 May 2001
Bang Kwang, Bangkok
In Bang Kwang prison in Bangkok, Thailand, there are no facilities such as a proper exercise yard or sporting facilities, or anything else except bare cells. Brutal beatings are common. Corruption is endemic and the only way to survive without going crazy or ending it all is to stay on heroin, which can be bought from the guards, if you are lucky enough to have money.
Perpignan prison in France is where Frank W. Abagnale, an American con artist who specialised in phoney checks, spent six months in the late 1960s. Abagnale was thrown, naked, into a cell in which he could not lie down or stand up and was kept in total darkness. He was not let out of that cell until he was released. He had no means of grooming or cleaning himself, and was fed food that had been thrown through his cell door onto the floor at irregular intervals. The sole amenity was a bucket which was not emptied very often.
Mark S. Lawson - posted Friday, 11 June 2004
San Pedro Prison, Bolivia
Convicts at San Pedro in Bolivia have to pay rent for a cell and they all have jobs within the prison. A large number have partners and children staying with them and tourists/backpackers are allowed to enter the prison but must be accompanied by a tour guide (a prisoner) for “safety reasons”. Tourists can even stay the night in a cell for a small fee and a large number of them frequent the jail in order to buy cocaine from inmates as it’s apparently the purest and cheapest in Bolivia. It’s also been suggested that local police only enter the facility to collect bribes.
Kresty Prison, St. Petersburg, Russia
Russia’s prisons have a reputation for being the most overcrowded on earth, especially Kresty Prison in St. Petersburg. The official capacity is set at 3,000, but the actual population is always at least 10,000. Each prisoner is also said to only be allowed 4 square meters of space each and 15 minutes a week (a week!) to shower.
ADX Supermax, Florence, Colorado
This ‘high-tech alcatraz’ was opened in 1994 and is home to only the most violent and dangerous criminals in the country who have absolutely no contact with each other at any time and spend 22 hours per day in solitary confinement (cell size 7ft x 8ft). Any prisoner here has been convicted to no less than a 25 year sentence, pretty much ensuring that security be a top priority.
Leoben Justice Centre, Steiermark – Austria
This prison, located in Steiermark, Austria, has been rated as a five-star prison, if such a thing exists. Created by hohensinn architektur, Leoben Justice Centre is perhaps one of the most attractive and most comfortable prisons in the world. Alluding to the level of comfort are the two inscriptions on the prison’s perimeter: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” which is taken from The United States Declaration of Independence, and “Each of the persons deprived of their liberty must be humanely and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human being treated.