It is generally believed there are two sides to every human being – the sinner and the saint. The sinner normally represents the dark side or rather the beastly side while the saint represents the bright side, also known as the angelic side. Man has never tamed his dark side and many at times he has failed to rise above it, it has consumed him. True to the saying that at his best, man is a little less than an angel but at his worst, a little more than a beast, he is known to have committed despicable deeds whenever the dark side is at play.
Since man acknowledged that he cannot tame his dark side, he devised a means to tame those overcome by it, and this is where prisons come in. Perhaps the term prison is quite broad and many legal experts have tried to limit its usage by coining other more particular terms like correctional facility, detention center and so on and so forth. Call it what you will, but the truth of the matter remains that the prison is the second worst place a human being can be confined to – the first is the grave.
However, many will agree that despite its cruelties, a prison still stands as one of the best institutions for criminal rehabilitation. It houses some of the worst forms of human beings and molds some of the best kinds as well. As such, it is generally accepted that when a criminal walks into a prison, it is both an act of punishment and reward – punishment to the convict and reward to the victim. We all talk of fairness and justice to everyone, including a convict, but recent studies have indicated that once you walk into the walls of a prison today, you will certainly get more than your fair share of justice the day you walk out, if you ever walk out at all. Prisons have become violent, and violence cuts across the two divide – prison authorities and the convicts themselves. This article will therefore delve into the issue of prison brutalities by discussing the 10 hardest prisons in the world by degree of violence and general austerity conditions.
#10 The San Quentin Prison
The San Quentin State prison is located north of San Francisco in the unincorporated town of San Quentin in Marin county. This is a prison for men and was officially opened in July 1852, being the oldest prison in California today.
What is San Quentin Prison’s claim to fame? Well, considering this is the only prison for death row inmates in the entire state, and the largest in the United States, it would probably be the last place any inmate would want to end up. Major execution methods have changed as technology changes, and currently the most preferred are the gas chamber or lethal injection.
The San Quentin is known worldwide for violent incidences, most of which pit the inmates with security guards. A notable incident occurred in February 2006 when some racially motivated attacks ended up in the injuries to over 100 inmates while two inmates lost their lives.
#9 Bang Kwang Prison
Located in the Nonthaburi province on the Chao Phraya River, this prison for men found in Northern Bangkok houses many foreign prisoners. The Bang Kwang handles mostly death row and long sentence prisoners, and is characterized by harsh inhumane conditions. Regulation here requires all prisoners to wear leg irons for the first three months of their sentences while inmates on death row have their leg irons permanently welded on [http://cdn1.listovative.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/14.-Bang-Kwang-Central-Prison.jpg].
Apart from the fact that inmates are tortured and crammed into small cells, what clearly defines this prison is the policy on executions – it is believed criminals on death row get very short notice before their execution.
The feeding program here is also highly strained, it is believed that the permanent diet here is a bowl of rice in vegetable soup, and the poor prisoners who cannot afford money to buy food from the prison canteen have to do chore and run errands for the wealthier prisoners and the prison guards in order to earn money for food.
#8 Rikers Island Prison
Located inNew York City, Rikers Island Prison is one of the world’s largest correctional facilities. This prison was officially opened in 1932.It is generally known for abuse and neglect of prisoners by the state.
This prison is also rich in a legacy of prisoner violence, and has made it become one of the strictest prisons in the world. Though not many cases have been documented, a guard who worked in the prison in the early 90s, John Reyes, narrated how he once feared for his life while on duty, due to the many cases of violence that were majorly characterised by stabbings, most of which ended up in death.
#7 Alcatraz Island Prison
Though now closed for bad reputation and negative media campaign, this is probably one of the most popular prisons, thanks to the many movies that have been associated with it. Located in the San Francisco Bay, this prison began in 1861 as a detention area for civil war prisoners. The Alcatraz is known to have housed some of the most notorious American criminals such as Al Capone, and is also known to have been one of the strictest prisons in the world. It is believed to have the least number of successful prison escapes, with a majority of the attempts ending up in either live or dead capture.
The most notable case of inmate insurrection in Alcatraz happened in May 2 1946, when a group of six prisoners attempted an escape, thereby resulting in a violent commotion with the authorities.
#6 ADX-Florence Supermax Facility
Located in Fremont county, Colorado, the Administrative Maximum Facility, informally referred to as ADX, is a male inmates prison that was constructed around the 80s.
This facility holds some of the worst prisoners, many of whom are in near round-the-clock solitary confinement. It is believed that the conditions are so stringent here that in June 2012, several inmates filed a lawsuit which charged that the condition of the prison creates a healthy environment for inmate abuse and torture.
Having only been officially opened in 1994, the prison has hosted some of the worlds most dreaded such as Richard Reid, the self-confessed Al Qaeda operative who was convicted in 2002 for attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and his involvement in the 2001 attempt to detonate an explosive hidden in his shoe in a Plane traveling from Paris to Miami
#5 La Sante Prison
The La Sante Prison is a prison operated by the Ministry of Justice and is located in the east of the Montparnasse district of the 14th arrondisement in Paris, France. This prison was inaugurated in August 20 1867 and has had its fair share of prison unrest. It is known to be such a brutal place that several prisoners have taken their own lives over serving their sentences there. Current suicide rates stand at 100 a year.
In 1999, 124 prisoners committed suicide in La Sante, and the violence here is so pervasive that prisoners only get a maximum of 4 hours a day out of their cells. This is also one of the few prisons in the world with a hierarchical structure, which only serves to worsen the situation by making certain prisoners appear stronger than others.
Aside from the rate, this prison has also witnessed some of the worst forms of suicide, with inmates reported to have swallowed, rat poisons, drain cleaners and even folks. The facility is also heavily infested with rats, and there are indeed reported cases of rats feeding on prisoners flesh while they are asleep.
#4 Diyarbakir Prison
Diyarbakir Prison is located in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey. It was constructed by the Turkish Ministry of Justice in 1980 as an E-type prison. One of the darkest spots of the prison’s history and its major claim to fame is for the fact that its infamous for incarcerating children for lifelong sentences without pity.
As opposed to many hard prisons where most cases of inmate violence emanates from the inmates themselves, in Diyarbakir, the violence often originates from the prison guards. A case in point is the 1966 incident in which violence was meted on inmates by the police and prison guards, resulting in the injury of 23 prisoners and the death of 10.
This prison still retains some of the most primitive forms of torture like; severe and systematic beatings, being stripped naked, pulling of hair, solitary confinement, being blindfolded and hosed, constant and relentless intimidation and surveillance, death threats, food deprivation among many others.
#3 La Sabaneta Prison
La Sabaneta Prison is found in Venezuela, South America and has earned its place as the most brutal prison in South America, and this is for the very fact that it houses over 3700 inmates in a facility designed for no more than 700 inmates.
Aside from inmate crowding, La Sabaneta is also known for its corrupt systems that rewards prisoners from the higher social classes at the expense of their poorer counterparts. There is also limited inmate surveillance and this coupled with a poor guard-inmate ratio of 1:150, has contributes to the many chaotic incidences witnessed in the facility.
Since inmates are largely ignored, the competition for food and medical substances is known to have been yet another triggers for unrest in this prison. The most memorable incident is the gun battled that ensued in 1994 which resulted in the death of 108 prisoners. A repeat incident was witnessed in 1995 when another violence resulted in the death of 196 prisoners and the wounding of 624 others.
#2 Tadmor Prison
The Tadmor Military Prison is located in Palmyra, Syria. It has been declared by Amnesty International as the most oppressive prison in the world. It is believed that the prison system is totally geared towards torture, and that every action performed by the authorities is aimed at tormenting the prisoners.
The most notorious event in the history of the prison happened in June 1980 when after surviving an attempt on his life by the Muslim Brotherhood, President Hafez al-Assaud ordered the killing of all prisoners in retaliation. The 2 weeks long massacre resulted in the massacre of between 800-2400 prisoners.
Even after having been closed in 2001 and reopened in 2011, the facility has not become less brutal. Another thing that characterise the prison is guards’ uncontrollable cruel behavior towards inmates, as cases have been reported of some of them cutting prisoners with axes, tying them up with ropes and dragging them to death.
Many experts and analysts have attributed the violent nature of the prison guards to poor training and general belief in Islamic doctrine that tends to advocate for retributive justice.
#1 Carandiru Penitentiary
Corandiru Penitentiary found in Brazil is arguably the most violent and deadliest prisons in the world. This prison is particularly infamous for the 1992 massacre in which mass execution of prisoners was done by the guards, that resulted in the death of 102 prisoners by bullet wounds. It is also worth noting that having been in existence for only 46 years, the prison has already seen the loss of lives of over 1300 inmates.
Another dreadful thing that the prison is known for is the prevalent rates of HIV/AIDS. It is believed that 1 out of every 5 inmates is infected with the virus. This has raised concern not only from human rights activists around the world but also from medical experts as well.
Prisoner brutality in this prison is the order of the day, most of the violence coming from the prisoners themselves. In an intimate interview, a one time prison guard once made an emotional confession that if an inmate does not kill at least within his first year of sentence, then he will surely get killed because failing to do so only amounted to an act of cowardice.
Though they are built to secure the rest of humanity from the cruelties of those who cannot rise above their dark sides, prisons have not only achieved that, but have gone an extra mile in worsening the conditions of the inmates themselves, as is evident from the list above.