These photos of prison cells around the world show how differently countries treat their criminals

  • Prisons vary around the world.
  • The wide range of conditions reflects how countries treat criminals.
  • Below are examples of prison cells around the world, from comfortable single bedrooms in Norway to overcrowded and run-down facilities in Malawi.

Prison cells vary widely from country to country.

Prisoners in Norway, for example, don’t have bars in their rooms and have access to musical instruments, DVDs, and video games. Meanwhile, in Malawi, a typical cell is squalid and packed with dozens of people.

The wide range of conditions reflects how countries treat criminals and raises the question of whether prison is meant to punish or rehabilitate them.

Read on to see what prison cells look like around the world.


San Quentin State Prison is the oldest prison in California. It’s a maximum-security facility that once housed Charles Manson.


Rikers Island in New York was named one of the US’s 10 worst prisons by Mother Jones. The prison is known for inmate violence and abuse at the hands of staff members.

Flickr / Jumilla

Source: Mother Jones


The Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, is a medium-security facility that houses about 1,000 male inmates.

Source: Federal Bureau of Prisons


Bordeaux Prison in Montreal, Canada, houses 1,000 to 1,500 male inmates with sentences of two years or less.

David-Olivier Gascon

Source: CTV News Montreal


Haiti’s Civil Prison, in the coastal town of Arcahaie, is notoriously overcrowded. In 2016, 174 inmates escaped during a riot that left one guard dead and others injured.

Source: Telegraph


Altiplano is a high-security prison in Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico. It was thought to be the most secure prison in Mexico until Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escaped from it in 2015.

Source: Business Insider


At the El Buen Pastor women’s prison in Bogota, Colombia, as many as 20 inmates can be assigned to a single cell.

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation


Inmates face danger at Desembargador Raimundo Vidal Pessoa penitentiary in Manaus, Brazil. Four people were killed in an inmate uprising last year, and dozens were killed in other prisons in the city.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Source: Reuters


Conditions are considerably better at Landsberg Prison in Landsberg am Lech, Germany. The progressive prison provides training to inmates in fields like baking, carpentry, and painting.

Source: The Local


Prisons in Norway are meant to mimic outside conditions as much as possible to prepare inmates to reenter society. At Oslo’s Skien prison, inmates have private bathrooms, a TV, and video games.

Source: Splinter


Inmates at the Norgerhaven prison in Veenhuizen, Netherlands, have a bed, furniture, a refrigerator, and a TV in their cells, as well as a private bathroom. They also get a window with a view of the prison yard.

Source: Norwegian Correctional Service


More than 100 war criminals are housed at the UN Detention Unit outside The Hague, Netherlands. Each cell contains a TV, but inmates do not get internet access.

EPA

Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty


The Maula prison in Lilongwe, Malawi, is severely overcrowded — in 2015, almost 200 people were crammed into one 60-person cell. Prisoners there, many of whom are Ethiopian migrants, share one toilet among 120 people and one tap to 900 people.

Luca Sola

Source: The Guardian


Neve Tirza is Israel’s only women’s prison. Most cells are 13 square meters, including a toilet and shower. Each cell houses about six women, who often have to share sleeping spaces.

Tomer Ifrah

Source: Refinery29


About 1,200 inmates live in Kashimpur Central Jail in Gazipur, Bangladesh.

YouTube/MM Badsha

Source: Bangladesh Jail


At Russia’s notorious Black Dolphin Prison on the border with Kazakhstan, inmates share small 50-foot cells that are set back about 3 feet from the door — a “cell within a cell.” Inmates are kept under 24-hour surveillance.

YouTube/The Sun

Source: Business Insider


At Abashiri Prison in Japan, guards inspect inmates’ rooms once a day. The prison houses inmates with sentences of eight years or less.

YouTube/Documentary Prison & Gangs

Source: Japan Visitor


Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, has been accused of withholding food and medical care from prisoners.

Source: Sky News

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