Prison is never a place you want to find yourself in, even if you’re visiting. They’re some of the most dangerous places in the world. Despite being globally recognized for inhumane living conditions and shockingly high mortality rates, most of these prisons remain open and fully operational.
Here are seven of the deadliest prisons of all time.
1. Carandiru Penitentiary
Carandiru Penitentiary is officially known as the São Paulo House of Detention. It was built in 1920 by Samuel das Neves in São Paulo, Brazil, to support a new war on crime that began thirty years prior.
The São Paulo House of Detention was open and operational from 1920 until 2001, housing up to 8000 inmates at a time with only around 1000 guards to manage them. Amidst terrible living conditions, the inmates used this power differential to their advantage by creating a system of their own, which eventually led to what is known as the Carandiru Massacre, where riots broke out inside the detention center, and the Brazilian military was called in.
By the time Carandiru was brought back to order, 111 prisoners were dead, and 37 were injured.
2. Tadmur Prison
Syria is one of the most war-torn places globally, and this military prison seated in Palmyra is a true reflection. Everything about this prison is sure to dehumanize its inhabitants, from extreme brutality to brutal living conditions, to high cement walls, to minefields for discouraging escape attempts.
You wouldn’t have wanted to end up in this prison, as it seems most who entered never came out. It was built by the French in the 1930s but gained its notoriety during Hafez al-Assad’s regime between 1971 and 2000. Not surprisingly, this prison was one of the first to be destroyed when the Islamic State took control of the region in 2015.
3. Diyarbakir Prison
Diyarbakir Prison is located in southeastern Turkey. It was opened in 1980, and during its first five years, it became infamous for its brutal conditions. Many prisons are dangerous because of the prisoners, but this one was dangerous because of the guards.
It was familiar to torture inmates as further punishment, resulting in 34 inmates losing their lives to such inhumanity. Human rights activists wanted to turn the prison into a museum of human rights abuses. Still, Kurdish proponents quickly shut down the idea, and the prison remains operational today.
4. Bang Kwang Prison
Bang Kwang Prison is located in Nonthaburi Province, Thailand, on the outskirts of Bangkok. It was opened in 1933 with the intention of housing the absolute worst of the worst criminals. You have to have a 25-year or lifetime jail sentence to find yourself in Bang Kwang.
It’s known worldwide for its horrific conditions, as many prisoners have lost their lives over the years, if not their sanity. For example, it’s said that every new inmate has to wear leg irons for the first three months of their stay, and death-row inmates never have them taken off.
5. San Quentin Prison
San Quentin Prison was built in 1852, north of San Francisco, California. It’s the oldest prison in California, and updates have occurred infrequently over the years, making living conditions very poor.
San Quentin has a capacity of 3082 but currently houses 3776 prisoners, tightening living conditions and raising tensions among inmates. However, the real danger at San Quentin comes from the inmates, where violence is a continual issue.
6. Sabaneta Prison
La Sabaneta Prison and jail violence go hand in hand. This prison is located in Venezuela and was built to house 700 inmates, but by 2013, it housed 3700. In addition, the prison was massively understaffed, resulting in excessive violence among inmates and ultimately leading to fires, riots, and even gunfights before it was finally shut down.
7. La Sante Prison
In Paris, France, La Sante Prison was opened in 1867 and served as a hellhole for prisoners. However, the conditions inside La Sante were widely unknown to the world until Dr. Veronique Vasseur made the information public through her book, Médecin chef à la prison de la Santé.
It’s said that the conditions inside La Sante were deplorable, propagating drug trade, sexual violence, and many other human rights abuses. In 1999, 124 inmates took their own lives to escape the horrors of La Sante.
The world is dangerous, but prisons bring out the worst in people, making them some of the most dangerous places on earth.