Prison as a punishment for crime stretches back to the 17th century, when people — including orphans — were detained for minor offenses or while awaiting trial. Movies like The Shawshank Redemption, Escape Plan, and Escape from Alcatraz do not even come close to capturing the reality of life behind bars. Prisons are intended to act as a rehabilitation facility for those who have been deceived or have gone astray.
Nobody is born a criminal; however, some events bring out the darkness and evil in a person, transforming them into a “monster.” You don’t want to find yourself in any of these situations! These prisons aren’t ordinary jails – they are the world’s worst prisons in the world! For this list, we’ll look at notorious jails known for their violence and horrible living conditions. San Quentin State Prison, Bang Kwang Central Prison, Alcatraz, and more are on our list!
Alcatraz aka The Rock, USA
Alcatraz Island, once a prison that closed in 1963, continues to haunt our collective consciousness as one of the world’s most notorious penal institutions. Its grim reputation and unique location off the coast of San Francisco make it an iconic symbol of suffering and despair. The prison’s remote and isolated setting rendered it an ideal stronghold for housing society’s most dangerous and high-risk criminals. Life within its walls was a living nightmare, characterized by unrelenting violence and abysmal living conditions. The relentless torment drove prisoners to madness, with many resorting to suicide as an escape from their despair. “Hellcatraz” became its chilling nickname, a testament to the prison’s infernal reputation. Notorious criminals like Al Capone, Mickey Cohen, Machine Gun Kelly, and the Birdman of Alcatraz, Robert Stroud, were among its infamous inhabitants. Today, a visit to Alcatraz is a haunting experience, a journey through a dark era of unimaginable suffering. It stands as a chilling reminder of the depths of human depravity and the indomitable spirit that can endure even in the face of such anguish. Alcatraz, a physical structure enveloped in emotional weight, continues to remind us that hope, no matter how feeble, can persist amidst the darkest of circumstances.
Bang Kwang Central Prison, Thailand
Bang Kwang Central Prison is located just north of Bangkok, Thailand. Bang Kwang, which opened in 1933, has Thailand’s execution chamber and is infamous for housing high-risk and violent prisoners. Historically, inmates were generally compelled to wear shackles bonded to their legs in order to prevent escape—though this policy was modified in 2013. Despite this, the overcrowded detainees are all crammed into cramped cells, and torture is allegedly widespread. detainees in the past have reported of guards hitting mentally ill, elderly, and pregnant detainees, and famished inmates attacking each other for everything of worth. In terms of the meals, the phrase “maggot-infested” appears to be frequently used.
Black Dolphin Prison, Russia
The Black Dolphin Prison (also known as Penal Colony No. 6) lies near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan. It is only for the most dangerous and violent convicted offenders in the country, including as serial murders, cannibals, pedophiles, and Chechen terrorists. It is named for the inmate-created dolphin sculpture that rests on the lawn in front of the jail reception. Prisoners are monitored by video surveillance 24 hours a day, and guards make rounds every 15 minutes. Each 50-square-foot (4.6-square-meter) cell has two inmates allocated to it and is separated from guards and other detainees by three sets of steel doors. Prisoners are only permitted to leave their cells for 90 minutes per day in a desolate concrete exercise yard. If they are moved anyplace within the facility, they are cuffed, blindfolded, and made to walk bent over, making it impossible for them to understand the layout of the prison, interact with other prisoners, or overcome the guards. This method is said to be exclusive to Black Dolphin.
San Quentin State Prison, USA
San Quentin is the oldest prison in California and has housed a distressing number of serial killers and rapists. It is also the only prison in California with a gas chamber and death row. On January 25, 2006, a death row inmate sliced a guard’s arm to the bone upon being uncuffed. Over 100 convicts were injured as a result of racially motivated attacks in February 2006. Violence has been and will continue to be a concern at San Quentin; regardless of how many guards are present, this jail will remain one of the most dangerous in the world.
Tadmor Prison, Syria
Tadmor Prison has a reputation for being one of the most oppressive detention institutions in the world, which is why it is within the top five on our list of the world’s 25 most hazardous jails. Detainees were tortured and killed by dragging them to death or cutting them up with an ax. In reaction to an assassination attempt on his life, President Hafez-al-Assad directed soldiers to “kill every prisoner in sight” in June 1980. To this day, the actual number of victims massacred is unknown, but it is expected to reach 1000, all of whom were members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Evin Prison, Iran
Hidden within the heart of Iran lies a chamber of terror, an abyss of unspeakable suffering known as Evin Prison. This wretched facility stands as a symbol of oppression and human rights abuses, solidifying its place among the world’s most horrific penitentiaries. Behind its fortified walls, a macabre symphony of anguish unfolds, leaving indelible scars on the souls of those unfortunate enough to be confined within.
Evin Prison embodies the darkest aspects of authoritarian rule, where dissent is crushed and voices of opposition silenced. Countless innocent individuals have been ensnared within its clutches, subjected to a relentless onslaught of physical and psychological torment. The prison’s corridors reverberate with the cries of the unjustly accused, their pleas for mercy swallowed by the void of injustice.
Inside these grim confines, humanity is stripped away, replaced by a pervasive atmosphere of fear and despair. The inmates endure overcrowded cells, squalid conditions, and deplorable hygiene, breeding disease and hopelessness. Torture, both physical and psychological, is employed as a tool to break the spirit and extract false confessions, leaving permanent scars on both body and soul.
Evin Prison has become a black hole of silence, where the truths of its atrocities remain concealed from the world. Prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders, journalists, and political dissidents suffer unspeakable horrors, their voices muffled by the oppressive regime. Families are torn apart, left to mourn the disappearance of loved ones swallowed by this abyss of darkness.
To bear witness to the torments of Evin Prison is to confront the depths of human cruelty and the resilience of the human spirit. It serves as a reminder that even within the bleakest of circumstances, the flame of hope can flicker, refusing to be extinguished. As we strive for a world free from oppression, we must not forget those who languish within Evin’s walls, yearning for liberation and justice.
Guatanamo Bay, Cuba
Guantanamo Bay, located off the coast of Cuba, was established in 2002 by President George W. Bush. Following the September 11th attacks, Bush declared a War on Terror and established Guantanamo Bay as a military jail. The jail has been widely chastised for its indefinite incarceration without trial and systematic use of torture, including waterboarding and sexual abuse. There have also been reports of a number of suicides and suicide attempts. The number of detainees was reduced during the Obama administration, but Guantanamo Bay remains open. Amnesty International has termed the facility a grave violation of human rights, referring to it as “the Gulag of our times.”
La Sabaneta, Venezuela
From 1958 to 2013, this jail in Maracaibo, Venezuela, was an extraordinarily brutal prison. Sabaneta was built to keep 700 prisoners but housed 3,700 by the time it closed in the early 2010s. The prison was totally managed by the convicts, replete with a gang hierarchy and “prans” (leaders). Mocho Edwin, a man who committed triple homicide in the late 2000s, was one of the prans. Naturally, there was a lot of fighting in the prison. In 1994, convicts allegedly ignited a fire and killed people attempting to flee, resulting in over 150 deaths. In 2013, the prison’s final year of operation, 69 detainees were slain by other inmates.
Camp 14, North Korea
Nestled in the heart of North Korea, a vast prison complex engulfs the land, known by the names of Camp 14 and Kacheon. This sprawling expanse, spanning 60 square miles (155 square kilometers), serves as a haunting testament to the depths of human suffering. Constructed in 1959, Camp 14 stands as a grim monument to the oppressive regime, situated approximately 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Pyongyang. Within its confines, a harrowing reality unfolds, as political prisoners endure unimaginable torment, their lives shattered for simply being labeled “enemies of the state.”
Camp 14, with its capacity to hold 15,000 prisoners, condemns its inhabitants to life sentences of despair. The very concept of hope is extinguished within these walls, replaced by a cycle of starvation and grueling slave labor. Prisoners, treated as disposable pawns, toil ceaselessly in treacherous conditions, exploited in mining, textiles, and farming. Their existence becomes a haunting symphony of pain and suffering, where their lives are reduced to mere cogs in a heartless machine.
Adding to this harrowing reality is the policy known as “three generations of punishment.” In this cruel system, individuals find themselves condemned solely due to their familial ties to suspected criminals. Innocence becomes an illusion, as generations of families are trapped within the clutches of Camp 14, their lives forever tainted by guilt through association. They endure a lifetime of torment, destined to die within the confines of this brutal prison, their only crime being the blood that courses through their veins.
Camp 14 stands as a chilling reminder of the atrocities committed against humanity, a stark symbol of a regime’s iron grip on its people. The souls confined within these walls yearn for liberation and justice, their voices stifled by the oppressive regime’s machinery of fear. As we bear witness to the horrors endured in Camp 14, we must strive to expose the truth and advocate for a world where the innocent are no longer subjected to such unfathomable suffering.
Vladimir Central Prison, Russia
Another Russian prison in the list, in addition to Black Dolphin, is Vladimir Central Prison.
Within the heart of Russia, Vladimir Central Prison stands as a grim testament to the depths of human suffering. Among the roster of Russia’s worst prisons, it casts a haunting shadow over the lives of its inhabitants. Serving as the country’s largest maximum-security prison, Vladimir Central becomes a black hole of despair for convicts enduring sentences ranging from a decade to a lifetime. The prison, designed to hold 1220 individuals, now exists in a state of overwhelming overcrowding, a breeding ground for despair and hopelessness.
Behind its formidable walls, a grotesque symphony of torture and agony unfolds. Vladimir Central Prison is a place where humanity is stripped away, replaced by a regime of sadism and brutality. Detainees, plucked from their cells, are subjected to horrors that defy comprehension. They are forced to stand against a wall, their hands trembling against the cold surface, as the merciless whip lashes upon their bodies. Torture becomes their daily existence, each agonizing moment etching scars upon their flesh and souls.
Yet, the torments inflicted within these walls are not limited to physical pain. Disease runs rampant, weaving its insidious tendrils through the overcrowded corridors. The prison becomes a breeding ground for sickness and suffering, as individuals struggle to survive amidst unsanitary conditions and limited access to medical care. In this realm of despair, the line between life and death blurs, leaving many to face their final moments in agony and isolation.
Vladimir Central Prison, once a place of nightmares, continues to haunt the collective conscience. It stands as a stark reminder of the depths of human cruelty, where the innocent are condemned to suffer and the guilty are broken beyond repair. As we confront the horrors endured within these walls, we are compelled to fight for a world where compassion triumphs over cruelty, and where prisons cease to be chambers of torment.
The above 10 prisons are some of the world’s most notorious jails in the world. It’s not as easy as you think to create such prisons to house the hardest core criminals. Do you know that year on year, the government has to set aside a portion of funding on these worst prisons to feed and shelter these tough criminals?
Nevertheless, it would be good to know of such secret places of the world though many of them would be out of bounds to leisure visitors. Do you know of anymore tough prisons in the world you would love to share? Send us your comments below to share on the world’s worst prisons in the world.