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  • M.U.

    How unsurprising that the most, if not necessarily the worst, were located in the US.

  • kal

    Yes i beliveing in punishment,,,, but abusing the human rights of the prisoner is very very wrong.

  • patrick b, world prison project

    the fact that you have U.S. prisons on this list makes in so laughably ridiculous. it just shows you really haven’t a clue. there isn’t a single prison in the whole of the united states that is worse than any prison on the whole continent of africa. hell, throw in the entire middle east, a good portion of south america, and the majority of asia (outside of japan, south korea, taiwan). in fact, even the U.S. prisons on your list are safer, more comfortable, and enjoy a higher quality of life than entire nations in this world. by putting out a list like this, and by ranking american prisons ahead of regions around the world littered with prisons that are so horrific in every details, youre diverting attention away from places/people that live in conditions beyond human comprehension. you are doing way more harm than good by spreading this ignorance. oh, and so you know, i’ve spent the past 17 years of my life working in prisons around the world. working to help bring funding, human rights, actual food (yes, there are regions in the world where prisoners are lucky to get 500 calories a day, if anything), actual drinkable water (there are thousands of prisons in regions of the world where the inmates drink actual sewer water). to bring basic sanitation (there are prisons in the world where the sanitation levels are below those of 16th century europe. are below those of anything you could actually comprehend. where 2/3rds of inmates will not survive more than 5 years, because of disease and illnesses that are so easily preventable, that arent even in existance in these american “prisons” on your list). working to bring these inmates any form of medical care. yes, ANY form, b/c they have NOTHING. they dont even have FREAKIN SOPE, so people die every single day (actually many die every day) b/c they were unable to clean a basic scratch, and that turns to infection, that turns to death. let alone any forms of medication whatsoever. yet, you have american prisons that have healthcare better than the “free populations” of the majority of the world. god, ignorance like yours does nothing but help keep things this way.

    • Greg


    • Michel

      Patrick, I agree you about the poor situation in numerous prisons in Africa, Asia, Latin America. Could you say more about the “world prison project”…

  • candycab

    Interesting article and comments.

    People in the United States need to take their head out of the sand and make a point of doing something with the way our Prisons are ran for one very big reason. Over 80% of those sentenced to Prison will be released back into Society at some point. Spend a little time watching Lock-Up on MSNBC and tell me you want any of those guys on the streets of your community. Guys with Zero tolerance for disrespect even on the smallest level that most people wouldn’t even recognize. Guys who are extremely hardened to other peoples feelings that wouldn’t think twice about victimizing others since that’s how you survive in the Prison environment if need be.

    In Ca our Prisons really are Gladiator Academies for the major gangs and a way to further their advancement within their gang. For them Prison has become a right of passage and a badge of honor for most. This needs to change as does the entire Prison environment which is sculpted bye the actions of these groups. We need to make sure we are not releasing what amounts to superior predators back into the environment we are supposed to be keeping safe to begin with.

    If people cant see the value to all of our lives by changing this then pat yourselves on the back for helping to make someone else a statistic and don’t whine about it when its someone you care about.

  • Greg

    I think Guantanamo Bay should be number 1. Not sure what they do there, but pretty sure it’s not very humane.

  • Tony

    Wow, you did a lot of research, however your number 1 pick shouldn’t even be on the list.. No American prisons belong on the list.. Prisons out there such as Venezuela where prisoners walk around with guns.

  • Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell

    I hate criminals and do have quite a right wing view on criminals/prison etc but even I think these prisons are a disgrace,especially tadmoor.
    If you treat people like animals,when they,if they do,come out of prison they’ll act like animals.
    I think there should be a happy medium where prisons are harsh but not brutal.

  • Giorgi Giorgadze

    The Deadiest prison in the world is Gldani #8 Prison in Tbilisi, Georgia. In this prison in former Soviet Republic of Georgia people are systematically raped, beate and killed. It is worse than Abu Ghraib prinson; videos of tortures are available in the Internet.

  • John

    What about the gulags during the worst years of communism in Russia?

  • ur momma

    ive seen docs on san qeuntin and its defo not as bad as mountjoy or st patricks there way worse!!!

  • danny bull

    In my personal opinions prisons like these and all the rest are necessary, now I understand human rights are abused here and some people are unjustly prosecuted but look at it from another point of view, if prison were not like this and were “easier” or built for rehabilitation then civilians would be less inclined to avoid criminal acts. if you knew that if you attacked person X then you would end up in a easy prison or a rehabilitation center you are more likely to think “hmmm it’s not that bad” , to cut things simple the fear of going to prison stops a lot of people committing crimes that is the tertiary role of prisons and not necessarily just punish prisoners. Now my view may be narrow minded so I genuinely appreciate comments which may enlighten my view.

    • I see your point, and it was used successfully some years ago as a reason *not* to make rape a crime punishable by death (because if you were going to face the death penalty anyway, why not kill your one certain witness?) However, let me point out that, while this might work in an ideallized society, part of the problem with these obscenely run prisons is that they include as prisoners PoCs (prisoners of conscience), who are basically innocent people who stood up for civil rights and civil liberties in countries where these were largely denied. Prisons like Evin in Iran have “political wings” where they imprison PoCs side by side with murderers and don’t investigate any mayhem in those cell blocks very closely. My particular interest is two groups of Baha’is currently imprisoned in Iran. One group was appointed to look after the beleaguered Baha’i community to make sure they had food, shelter, etc, because the government is making it harder and harder for them to survive by depriving them of the rights to be educated, to work, etc. They got 20 year sentences. The second group had responded to the governments refusal to let Baha’i youth have access to higher (and sometimes lower) education by creating its own higher education network. Most of these people are not young; one was denied a release to attend the funeral of his wife. There have been cases where Baha’is of all ages have been tortured (electronic whips seem popular, as is the bastinado) because they would not recant their extremely peaceful and non-seditious faith. I would urge you to look up the site for a look at just one instance of how this sort of prison is grossly misused. In this case, a whole lotta people asked themselves if their acts of kindness, charity, and sanity were worth a prison term and said yes.

      • danny bull

        I see what you are saying, the PoC do not belong in prisons, but they are in prison and if prisons allow humans right to be breached, these people who are not necessarily criminals may have there human rights abused for trying to do good. That is unfair.

        I note your point “while this might work in an ideallized society”. I do live in the United Kingdom, it is difficult without seeing these conditions first hand how bad they really are. But that said in countries such as the United Kingdom people are still sent to prison because they fight for a cause (such as Palestine) and will suffer the conditions, albeit not so bad. Although I am aware of this point and I too believe that this is unfair.

        What I am trying to say is that the prisons listed here and many others “take it too far” if that’s a correct term. but in the United Kingdom the prisons (not that I have ever been in one) would not appear to breach human rights so openly, as in guards do not murder prisoners or torture them, deprive them of food etc. and still I would avoid committing a crime to avoid going to a UK prison. So UK prisons still achieve a type of fear of prisons without the conditions that these top 10 and other prisons have.

        So! that all said you are right these types of prisons on this top 10 list are wrong, and the types of criminals inside contain PoC’s which is truly injustice. I shall look at the link you sent me aswell.

        If what I said does not make any sense please let me know, and feel free to respond.

        • I guess in the true idealized society, people would all do good just because of an innate or nurtured moral imperative and would feel no compulsion to commit crimes; likewise, the true idealized society would make provision for people who truly need care, food, housing, etc., and only people in need would make use of these resources. There’s a nice Hadith that says, roughly, “He is a good man who does good for others.” Part of what makes this subject so difficult is that even if everyone started doing good for others right this second, the damage done by conditions of both society as a whole and within families are going to take generations to shake out.

          In response to your second email (found that here when I came over to reply): this is a whole other subject and perhaps the most complex of the lot. I’ve read of cases where long-term prisoners (I’m guessing not the ones in, say, Iran’s Qarzak, which really should be on this list) are so used to the confining routine of prison they can’t function on the outside and so commit crimes to get back in. What is wrong with this picture? There’s such a fine balance with reintroducing long-term prisoners back into society. Society deserves to protect itself, but it should have an obligation to help parolees get off on the right foot better than it does. I had a friend who was an attorney who said she pitied the people who got into the system who truly were innocent because they got exactly the same harsh treatment the guilty did.

      • danny bull

        Something else I thought about after my last reply, I understand that the prisoners themselves abuse other prisoners, this can be difficult to control in some cases. not sure how I would proceed with that one.

        Also Another effect of prisons in western society is the fact that if you have been to prison on leaving prison it becomes far more difficult to find a job, this can be both negative and positive the fact that it is harder to get a job with a criminal record would mean people would again avoid prison but then if you have been to prison life becomes much harder when you come out which can lead to other problems. I kind of gone a bit of topic there I think but I hope you understand what I’m saying.

        Feel free to correct/comment.

  • Karter Strickland

    If you did somthing so heinous to end up in these prisons I dont feel sorry for ya. The only time you should kill someone is when someone is threatening your life or the life of your loved ones and in immediate danger of losing your life period end of story.

  • Michael Blais

    If this is what passes for journalism, we are in a very sad state indeed. The US prison are far, far better than the a host of other prisions across the world. The author has commited a crime of lazy journalism…or what she thinks passes for journalism. Sad that some people will consider this well researched. It is far from that.

  • JennaBro-Australia

    Wow, Heather – great article. You have certainly captured a curious audience – these comments go for miles, and I am fascinated by the controversial interest.

    All I can add is, I find it ironic that guards are murdering people or have the “rights” in some prisons to kill, chop and torture inmates.. Regardless of what the reason they are in prison for. It’s an evil world inside these prison walls.. The human race is scary

    • Sam J

      I lost interest as soon as I saw a US prison on the list. No “first world”, Western country has prisons with the same amount of dire corruption, inhumane conditions & deprivation as most “third world” prisons do. At least in a maximum security jail in a first world country the inmate has regular access to clean water, meals, visits and free legal advice thanks to things like the US constitution, Canadian constitution, European Union Court of Human Rights, etc. which strictly prohibit inhumane treatment of prisoners. A Thai, Turkish or Columbian jail has none of that.

      • Karen

        I see Sam’s point and, yes, was surprised at the prisons that aren’t on this list. My specific issues is members of the Baha’i Faith in prison in Iran—and in the past few years this has included educators Baha’i kids can be kicked out the public school system just for being Baha’is, and they are flatly denied access to higher education (there’s been a grass roots level attempt to remedy this situation but the administrators and some of the teachers plus a group of 7 (being from the 60’s I like to call them the Tehran 7! Technically they are called the Yarah—a group of helpers whose job it was to make sure the Baha’is in Iran had the basic necessities of life, since it has become illegal for the Baha’is to work in a whole pile of jobs, including anything to do with the government (over there, this includes teachers and administrators, people who work for oil companies etc).

        The other group that puts the government over the line that demarcates “society has the right to protect itself” from “we have utterly given up all claim to our fundamental decency and humanity.” This group was a number of nursing mothers whose nursing infants accompanies their moms to jail with them. I *so* wanted to write an article for something like the Onion about how Ahmadinejad and Khameini were such great supporters of La Leche League that they fully supported the young mothers’ right to cart their kids into some of the filthiest, most crowded prisons in the country. So, you may add to your list Evin, Gohar’dasht, Qarzak (think the old movie “Escape from New York” on a smaller scale, and any of the places in Semnan where the moms with infants have been incarcerated (I don’t think you can even uphold this conviction and sentence by using anything in Shariar Law. And I mention the Baha’is because the atrocities committed against them since the 1979 Revolution (and you can hardly find a more industrious, peace-loving group who are told specifically in their scriptures to be the well-wishers of the government in land in which they love) have been unusually severe. But Iran certainly has more than its fair share of POCs, and prisons like Gohar’dasht have special “political wings” where POCs the government would just like to go away are mixed in with much more violent offenders—and if a death or severe injury happens the guards are told not to inquire too closely. Sorry for the rant. This kind of thing drives me nuts.

  • Colleen Marie

    I don’t feel bad for anyone who goes to prison.

  • Nikki Smith-Rivera

    Makes me sad for the children that are imprisoned. Too young to waste a life. 🙁