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14 Most Violent Prisons on Earth


The theoretical purpose of prisons is to rehabilitate a person enough to allow them to enter back into society after they’ve served their time. But when the prisoners are so dangerous that they must be locked away for the rest of their lives in almost round-the-clock solitary confinement, things get intense.  When you look at some of the most violent prisons in the world, certain similarities appear:

  • They’re usually overcrowded, holding many more prisoners than originally intended.
  • They’re understaffed, with sometimes as few as one guard per every 150 inmates.
  • They’re remote, in places hardly ever visited by family or the press.

Prison violence isn’t something that can be avoided, when you cram people into cells together and force them to live with each other, but it can be lessened. Some countries around the world have found that better living conditions, even for the most violent offenders, decreases the likelihood of future incidents.

While the perfect prison system is still yet to be determined, we’ll take a look at some places that are almost literally “Hell on Earth.” Here are 14 of the most violent and brutal prisons from around the world.

1. Bang Kwang Central Prison, Thailand: At the maximum security prison in Bangkok, prisoners must remain in leg chains for a minimum of the first three months of their sentence. Irons are welded onto the legs of death row prisoners, never to be removed.

Guards stand holding weapons at Bangkwang Central Prison where suspected Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout is being held in Nonthaburi Province

Known by some as the “Bangkok Hilton,” the prison feeds its prisoners just one bowl of rice per day. Prisoners are told only two hours before they are taken to be executed, and  they live in perpetual fear.


2. Petak Island Prison, Russia: Violence has been curbed in this prison because of 22.5 hours a day spent in solitary confinement with no toilet or sink. It’s said that the inmates begin to lose all signs of personality within one year.


The island prison is surrounded by ice and snow for most of the year. The only time the prisoners get to leave their small cells is when they’re allowed to enter a smaller cage located out in the cold. Men hold a rag between pens and pull against each other for a simple form of exercise, or pace back and forth the few steps it takes to cross their area.


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