Top 10: Notorious Prisons

There are many that believe California's Prison Rehabilitation System and other systems around the world have more sinister purpose outside of incarceration. Discuss prison topics here in California, throughout the United States and Internationally.

Top 10: Notorious Prisons

Postby Christina Marie » August 29th, 2006, 11:08 pm

Top 10: Notorious Prisons
By Ben Dutka

Prisons are society’s punishment. While the theory of incarceration remains similar the world over, the methods of enforcement can change drastically. The following is a list of the 10 most notorious jails on earth; they are the worst of the worst and the lowest of the low.


Number 10

San Quentin State Prison
California, U.S.

Description: San Quentin is California’s best-known prison, and is responsible for producing some of the most infamous prison stories in the country’s history. It contains the state’s only death row and it has a gas chamber, which is now only used for lethal injections. The prison requires an immense staff of 1,548 to maintain a semblance of control, but despite that figure, they still can’t seem to provide decent health care. A 2005 report found that doctors constantly misdiagnose illnesses and operate in filthy conditions. The experts filing the report said: "We found a facility so old, antiquated, dirty, poorly staffed, poorly maintained, with inadequate medical space and equipment and overcrowded that it is our opinion that it is dangerous to house people there.”

The worst part: It doesn’t seem to matter how many guards there are, how strictly enforced the rules are or how much prison reform is done: Violence in San Quentin will forever be an issue. In 1982, a riot erupted that required 24 shotgun blasts to subjugate the uprising that resulted in the serious injuries of 22 convicts and four correctional officers. In February, 2006, 100 inmates were injured and two were killed in racially motivated attacks that resulted in a lockdown for 1,800 prisoners.

Number 9

La Sabaneta prison
Venezuela, South America

Description: In the Venezuelan prison system, there are 25,000 prisoners housed in facilities designed for about 15,000; and with roughly one-third of Venezuela’s population below the poverty line, jails like Sabaneta are stuffed. Some prisoners are forced to sleep in hammocks strung up in narrow pipe-access corridors, while the corruption of the system allows inmates with more power and money to attain rooms with more space. Combine this with an understaffed guard detail of about one guard to every 150 inmates, and you have a prison in desperate need of reforming.

The worst part: There are countless violent incidents. One of the most frightening was the death of 108 prisoners as a result of a fierce gun battle in January, 1994, and the level of violence has hardly decreased. The killings were indeed one of the most vicious and tragic in the country’s history, but it’s a common trend: In 1995 alone, an astounding 196 prisoners were killed and 624 were wounded as a result of jail violence.

Number 8

Diyarbakir prison
Diyarbakir, Turkey

Description: Turkish prisons certainly have a shady past, to say the least, and Diyarbakir is no exception. From incarcerating children for lifelong sentences to overcrowding to sewage-flooded hallways, the prison redefines fear and hatred.

There is no love lost between guards and prisoners, but a 1996 incident hints at a brutal authoritarian rule that leaves no inmate safe. In what one prisoner described as, “a planned massacre,” an attack on 33 prisoners resulted in 10 dead and 23 injured, nine of which were left in critical condition. An investigation revealed a startling possibility that the guards masterminded the attack, which featured guards and police in full riot gear and equipped with batons and truncheons. They severely beat the prisoners.

The worst part: It’s clear that the inmates have few rights. There is a large population of political prisoners, therefore “certain people” actually get all their basic rights reversed. So, instead of being provided with health care, visits and access to cultural and sports facilities, these rights are taken away and prisoners are held in abeyance. The Turkish government hopes to banish this kind of cruel treatment, but so far everything seems stuck in a “waiting period.”


Number 7

Mendoza prison
Argentina, South America

Description: There have been 22 deaths in this prison between February 2004 and November 2005, and the causes for these deaths “have yet to be ascertained.” The prison has a chronic overcrowding problem, housing 1,600 inmates in facilities designed for only 600. The prisoners typically sleep on the floor, are subject to prolonged and frequent lock-downs and they are frequently tortured.

The worst part: The living conditions are a nightmare. Virginia Shoppee, an Amnesty International researcher said, “People imprisoned in Mendoza are in such a desperate situation that they have gone as far as to sew their mouths up in demand of better living conditions.” Journalist Marcela Valente reported: “Up to five prisoners sleep on the floor without mattresses in 4 square-meter cells. They defecate in plastic bags and urinate in bottles. The corridors, littered with several days' worth of garbage, are often flooded by sewage.”


Number 6

Rikers Island
New York, U.S.

Description: The saga of Rikers spans from brutal notoriety in the 1990s to the current state of the prison, which is essentially an impenetrable fortress. Many inmates have said that Rikers is worse than the roughest New York streets.

Prisoner violence is legendary. One account from John Reyes, a guard in 1991, mentions numerous bloody beatings and even murders. Reyes said that a day did not go by that he wasn’t afraid. Due to these circumstances, Rikers has seen a ton of recent reform, and it is now quite possibly the strictest prison in the country. Huge SWAT teams crack down on riots, search cells on a daily basis to confiscate hundreds of makeshift weapons, and reinforce a super-tough Gang Intelligence Unit. In the past, an inmate wasn’t charged with a crime if he attacked another inmate or a guard, but he is now. These changes have helped drop 1,000 stabbings a year to around 70.

The worst part: The legacy of violence will forever haunt Rikers, but the No. 1 issue now is that the place destroys your spirit. The system is one of fierce organization, but the environment strains for chaos, and the two forces are pitted against each other. You feel inclined to protect yourself, but if you’re caught with a shank, you receive more time. Maynard Archer, who has served time in Rikers five times since 1988, says, “They don’t use pepper spray… they use sticks and the threat of fear.”

Number 5

Nairobi Prison
Kenya, Africa

Description: It’s maybe the most congested prison in Kenya, with 3,800 prisoners inhabiting a prison designed for only 800. Added to that, 250 short-term prisoners are confined to a room designed for 50. They lack everything from mattresses to decent medical assistance to clothing -- many inmates are nearly naked and are constantly sweating from the heat and overpopulation. The prison is home to nationals of other countries as well, and Nigerian prisoner Colin Alexander states, “We are surviving by the grace of God. I don’t think any human being can survive here.”

The worst part: This kind of overcrowding leads to a lack of proper medical attention, sustenance and general assistance. It also turns the prison into a breeding ground for countless diseases, and the unsanitary conditions only magnify the problem. The prison is finally catching a break after the end of former President Moi’s rule.


Number 4

Tadmor military prison
Syria, Africa

Description: Syrian poet, and five-year inmate, Faraj Beraqdar, described Tadmor military prison as, “The kingdom of death and madness.” Tadmor is known for its outrageous torture, its executions and for one of the biggest prison massacres in world history. On June 27, 1980, commando forces from the Defense Brigades savagely murdered an estimated 500 prisoners. One day, after a failed assassination attempt on Damascus President Hafez al-Asad, the commandos arrived at the jail via helicopter and proceeded to kill the inmates in their dormitories.

The worst part: In a word -- torture. The methods used are medieval in nature: Some inmates were killed by the sharp end of an ax and cut into parts, others were roped and dragged to death and still others were brutally beaten by metal pipes. These torture victims consisted of both the guilty and the innocent, and were often randomly selected.


Number 3

La Sante prison
Paris, France

Description: You know that you’re in a bad place when you get so depressed or insane that you begin swallowing drain cleaner and rat poison to escape. With 124 suicides in 1999 -- compared to 24 in California’s jail population of 160,000 -- La Sante has remained a place of violence, depravity, and brutality, where the weaker prisoners are often turned into slaves. Inmates only spend four hours a day outside of their cells and those with prison-jobs usually work in their cells, which are only 30 square feet with tiny peepholes in the solid metal doors.

The worst part: According to Dr. Veronique Vasseur, a prison doctor, there have been numerous instances of intense abuse. Dozens of inmates are affected with skin disease due to having access to only two showers per week. The guards have kept prisoners with lung disease in poorly ventilated cells that are next to humid laundry rooms. There’s an instance where eight guards tried to hold a prisoner to administer a shot, and when he retaliated, he injured several guards. He was thrown into the punishment block and, 15 days later, he was found severely dehydrated because the guards had cut off the water pipes to his cell.


Number 2

Administrative Maximum Unit Prison (ADX)
Colorado, U.S.

Description: ADX was designed to replace Alcatraz in 1963, and when it opened in 1994 it took imprisonment to a whole new level. The prison strictly enforces repressive techniques of isolation and sensory deprivation. Those incarcerated are only allowed out of their cells for 9 hours each week, and all prisoners are required to eat, sleep and defecate in their cells. They even go so far as to severely limit the amount of sunlight and artificial light received by inmates, and it’s described as being locked in your bathroom for 22 hours a day.

The worst part: There is almost complete and total lack of human interaction. The steel and cement cages effectively destroy any possibility of communication between the prisoners, and even contact with guards is extremely limited. "These guys will never be out of their cells, much less in the yard," says Russ Martin, the Florence prison project manager. Oscar Lopez Rivera, a prisoner of war, states, "Isolation is perfected here, both in the structure of the cell and in the very limited communication. People don't realize the value of human intercourse until it's denied."


Number 1

Carandiru Penitentiary
Brazil, South America

Description: If you’re looking for hell on earth, look no further than this god-forsaken hole of a prison. Carandiru is the home of the country’s worst prison massacre: 102 inmates were shot dead in 1992. The prison is plagued with atrocious health problems that are almost too horrid to describe. Almost one of every five inmates in the prison's health wing has been diagnosed with HIV, and prisoners are often denied “luxuries” such as anaesthetics for surgery. It has been reported that even the medical director for the jail hasn’t set foot inside the facility in years. As always, there are cries for help, but nothing has changed to combat the terrible conditions. Also, severe torture is very likely not just a rumor, since reports claim that it is on the decline.

The worst part: Like many terrible prisons, Carandiru is overcrowded; however, when you are at double the capacity, you have a very unstable situation. Walter Erwin Hoffgen, the House of Detention Director, has said: "Of course I don't have control of the situation. It would be ridiculous to say I did. The prison has 7,500 inmates and only about 1,000 prison officers, divided into four shifts."

What’s worse -- and perhaps even more shocking -- is the lack of public outcry; most civilians are completely indifferent.

lock ‘em up

Some prisons on this list are microcosms of larger problems in the country, others are created entirely to erase all hope, and still others are just festering sores that are immune to reform. Some have a history of terror that’s been addressed only to be replaced by an environment of pressure and fear, and the rest have a legacy of filth and brutality that still exists today. In the end, all of them have one thing in common: The odds are stacked against the prisoners.


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Postby LEEDSBANGBANG » October 4th, 2006, 8:49 am

im not been funny but no us prisons can compare to worldwide prisons, like brazil, russiaand most other poor countries
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Postby Christina Marie » October 4th, 2006, 1:43 pm

Well this was the top 10 "most notorious" prisons. Not neccesarily the worlds worst prisons.
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Postby Cinfull_Latina » October 4th, 2006, 8:02 pm

Thats why I find it so funny when on TV (BET especially) Portray most prisons like its some type of party when its not even like that..
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Postby A Ghost » October 4th, 2006, 8:18 pm

That's funny....

They didn't even mention Attica.

When Attica had the riots in the 70's it was the first time that prisoners had ever actually co-operated with each other to systematically take over the jail.

Instead of fighting each other they teamed up against the gaurds because they were being totured and even made demands from the governor or else they weren't gonna give up.

The governor sent in the State Police and it was a slaughter, there are still bullet holes in the walls from the gunfire.....
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Postby none for you » October 5th, 2006, 11:10 pm

Cinfull_Latina wrote:Thats why I find it so funny when on TV (BET especially) Portray most prisons like its some type of party when its not even like that..


that's really sad.
making prison attactive?... what's really being said???
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Postby none for you » October 5th, 2006, 11:18 pm

they didnt mention pelican bay either,,, that place has to be one of the nastiest american prisons,,,
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Postby rocstar » October 5th, 2006, 11:48 pm

A Ghost wrote:When Attica had the riots in the 70's it was the first time that prisoners had ever actually co-operated with each other to systematically take over the jail.


Not really, the Attica riots were in response to the killing of George "The Dragon" Jackson, who had organized the California pens. He had Black, White, Latino inmates all working together against the system. They killed him during a suppossed prison break from San Quentin.
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Postby rocstar » October 5th, 2006, 11:50 pm

none for you wrote:they didnt mention pelican bay either,,, that place has to be one of the nastiest american prisons,,,


It's based on name recognition. Pelican's Bay and Corcoran are worse prisons. Beside's death row San Quentin is a reception center like Chino now. I don't even think they got level 4 anymore.
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Postby none for you » October 6th, 2006, 12:31 am

rocstar wrote:
none for you wrote:they didnt mention pelican bay either,,, that place has to be one of the nastiest american prisons,,,


It's based on name recognition. Pelican's Bay and Corcoran are worse prisons. Beside's death row San Quentin is a reception center like Chino now. I don't even think they got level 4 anymore.


not true.. yes it is a big reception, but thats only one wing...
SQ a huge mainline,,,, it has a level 4.... plenty of lifers are there...
I got a pal in there who just today got his clearance for an appeal
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Postby rocstar » October 6th, 2006, 12:59 am

none for you wrote:
rocstar wrote:
none for you wrote:they didnt mention pelican bay either,,, that place has to be one of the nastiest american prisons,,,


It's based on name recognition. Pelican's Bay and Corcoran are worse prisons. Beside's death row San Quentin is a reception center like Chino now. I don't even think they got level 4 anymore.


not true.. yes it is a big reception, but thats only one wing...
SQ a huge mainline,,,, it has a level 4.... plenty of lifers are there...
I got a pal in there who just today got his clearance for an appeal


I dont know about that you might be right but I remember a while ago I knew a couple of people got moved around because they was changing it's status. It's lifers at Chino but that aint they final destination point. Im pretty sure the 4 yarders got sent to Corcoran and New Folsom among others. They even trying to move the death row to Pelicans because Quentin is so antiquated
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Postby BlaKK » October 6th, 2006, 11:28 am

It's lifers at Chino


Chino Prison is in my backyard... Literally.
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Postby BlaKK » October 6th, 2006, 11:28 am

But thats the womens facility...
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Postby Christina Marie » October 6th, 2006, 12:15 pm

BlaKK wrote:But thats the womens facility...


CIM? No, thats a mens prison.
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Postby BlaKK » October 6th, 2006, 12:26 pm

CIM? I never heard of that in my life... I was referring to the chino women's facility... When I smoke blunts in my back yard at night sometimes I can see the women in there cells.
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Postby areefce » October 6th, 2006, 1:57 pm

chino institute for men.you never heard of that???????
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Postby BlaKK » October 6th, 2006, 2:18 pm

Yeah I knew there was a mens facility... Every single one of my neighbors (All of them) are guards in the prison... Fuckin white boi's that think they cops, so I point my finger in there face and laugh every time I check the mail.
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Postby BxxMILITIA » October 7th, 2006, 11:13 am

ive' had a couple homies locked down in rikers island and got a older brother in C-73, n from wut ive heard, and the visits i made, the place is unbearable.the visits take FOREVER everytime i visit my brother, n i heard that regardless of all the security n guards they got, its still crazy up in there.ive' was in spofford, but that's nothing compared 2 rikers island...its crazy how much worse those other prisons out of the u.s. r....
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Postby Christina Marie » October 7th, 2006, 1:04 pm

BlaKK wrote:CIM? I never heard of that in my life... I was referring to the chino women's facility... When I smoke blunts in my back yard at night sometimes I can see the women in there cells.


Damn you are close!!!
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Postby none for you » October 8th, 2006, 11:42 pm

rocstar wrote:
none for you wrote:
rocstar wrote:
none for you wrote:they didnt mention pelican bay either,,, that place has to be one of the nastiest american prisons,,,


It's based on name recognition. Pelican's Bay and Corcoran are worse prisons. Beside's death row San Quentin is a reception center like Chino now. I don't even think they got level 4 anymore.


not true.. yes it is a big reception, but thats only one wing...
SQ a huge mainline,,,, it has a level 4.... plenty of lifers are there...
I got a pal in there who just today got his clearance for an appeal


I dont know about that you might be right but I remember a while ago I knew a couple of people got moved around because they was changing it's status. It's lifers at Chino but that aint they final destination point. Im pretty sure the 4 yarders got sent to Corcoran and New Folsom among others. They even trying to move the death row to Pelicans because Quentin is so antiquated


i got a friend there that's been down for 16 years (on a 7 to life sentence), I am not sure how long he's been at SQ (at LEAST 4 years), but he got there from Jamestown.
he has been going to school, working and playing organized sports against outside teams.
those things dont happen in a reception farm.
WhenI have gone to visit him he has pointed out several of his friends and associates, and told me a bit here and there,.... most of them were lifers... seems it's mostly lifers in the visitors room... that may be because reception gets only glass visits. but overall, seems there should be more visitors... sad, but only a tiny handful get them... considering the huge population there.
I have another friend on his way back in that has been in and out on violations and spends a lot of time in reception, primarily because he is a hardnutcase, in corrigible, and a shotcaller. I guess he wont be going to reception for long this next stretch. But i also think they dont want him there, mostly because of political reasons (see "shotcaller" comment)... he's probably going down for a while..... maybe even longer. The dumbass!
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Postby Invincible » October 9th, 2006, 12:00 am

Cinfull_Latina wrote:Thats why I find it so funny when on TV (BET especially) Portray most prisons like its some type of party when its not even like that..


the Swedish prisons seem exactly like that, heck they can even walk out of the prison if they request a day and be a free man for a day and can even spend a night with their fmaily, on top of being able to wlak around everywhere, have home cooked meals/tv/gym/etc.
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Postby Christina Marie » October 9th, 2006, 12:08 am

Invincible wrote:
Cinfull_Latina wrote:Thats why I find it so funny when on TV (BET especially) Portray most prisons like its some type of party when its not even like that..


the Swedish prisons seem exactly like that, heck they can even walk out of the prison if they request a day and be a free man for a day and can even spend a night with their fmaily, on top of being able to wlak around everywhere, have home cooked meals/tv/gym/etc.


There are a few states here in the US that have that kind of program. Crazy...I just cannot imagine.
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Postby dochesangel » November 1st, 2006, 6:40 pm

SQ is no joke. My ole man was in Soledad, Chino and then Quentin. He was a man I never saw fear in and he said Quentin had him nervous. He said he was lookin over his shoulder 24/7. He said you couldn't trust the other inmates and couldn't trust the guards. You were truly on your own.
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Re: Top 10: Notorious Prisons

Postby choppalou » January 28th, 2011, 4:25 am

the most worst prisons are in russia, watch some documentaries. its crazy
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Re: Top 10: Notorious Prisons

Postby Christina Marie » January 28th, 2011, 5:45 am

Yeah they are pretty bad from what I have seen and read. Free for all
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Re: Top 10: Notorious Prisons

Postby Quepolo3 » March 11th, 2011, 8:22 am

I have seen quite a few documentaries about prisons over the years. All seem to have their own factors which make them notorious. However, being from the South, the one that stands out to me is Angola State Prison in Louisiana. From everything I've heard, that is no place you want to be locked up, if there is any.
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