The thought of going to any prison is horrifying enough to deter most people from ever stepping on the wrong side of the law – being deprived of your freedom, being unable to see loved ones, damaging your future employment prospects, not to mention running the risk of all kinds of assault by the hardened criminals dwelling within, are all reason enough to rightly fear being caged within four walls.
However there are some prisons operating in the world today that make your local prison look like a holiday camp. In this video I take a closer look at 5 of the worst prisons in the world.
5. Black Dolphin Prison, Russia
In a country known for having a brutally tough prison system, you know a prison is bad when it gets a reputation for being the worst prison in Russia. Black dolphin is located near the border with Kazakhstan and houses the most dangerous and hardened criminals from all over Russia, including cannibals, terrorists, and pedophiles.
Upon arrival prisoners are blindfolded and bent over in a stress position with their hands cuffed behind their backs. This keeps them under the complete control of the guards, and also prevents them from mapping out the prison, reducing the possibility of escape. Whenever they are transported in and out of their cells, inmates are moved in this way. It has proven an effective strategy effective as there have been no escapes from black dolphin.
Inmates are kept in a cell behind three sets of steel doors, and usually two prisoners will share one 50 square foot cell. The inmates are under constant 24 hour cctv observation, and are visually checked every 15 minutes by a guard.
The average day begins at 6am, when the inmate must rise from bed, and spend most of the day in his cell. During this time, he is unable to sit or rest on his bunk until it is time to sleep again. There is no prison yard, instead inmates get their short daily bout of exercise in another cell, the workout session simply consisting of pacing back and forth.
The lost souls within black dolphin are fed a diet of soup and bread, but there is no cafeteria. Meals are eaten inside the cell, further limiting opportunities for any kind of social contact. When the day draws to an end, the inmates are forced to sleep with a bright light shining overhead, and are not allowed to cover their faces.
Under such conditions, any traces of the prisoners personality breaks down, and all hope dies. They become closer to robots than men, and accept that the only way they will leave black dolphin, is via its cemetery.
4. La Sabaneta Prison, Venezuela
Venezuela has some of the most violent and lawless prisons in the world. La Sabaneta is one of the worst, and contains 3700 inmates crammed into a facility designed to hold just 700. Such overcrowding, combined with a lack of funds and chronic understaffing, has left this hellish prison under control of roving gangs of bloodthirsty, violent prisoners.
Violence is just as part of the daily routine as eating or sleeping, and stabbings. Rape and even beheadings are regular occurrences. With just 1 guard per 150 inmates, enforcing any kind of order is impossible, and gang law is the only law.
During a massive riot in 1994, armed police stormed the prison and massacred 100 inmates. in the subsequent search of the prison, automatic weapons, knives, and even grenades were found.
Life within the prisons walls is the ultimate test of survival or the fittest, this is no place for the weak. New inmates must be prepared to fight to protect themselves, lest they be seen as easy prey for rape, or even be killed. Those who are too weak to protect themselves may seek protection from others, at the cost of becoming a slave, often required to cook, clean and provide sexual favours for gang leaders.
Even basic facilities are not provided. There is no proper sanitation, plastic bags are used as toilets, inmates wash from a shared bucket of water, and on site drinking water is infested with parasites and bacteria. Cholera, AIDS, and a whole host of other infectious diseases rampage through the prison, with one recent cholera outbreak wiping out 700 prisoners.
The average prisoner is provided with a mere 2 meals per day if they are lucky, and this is one prison where having a cell is considered a luxury. Most inmates sleep in cramped hammocks which line the narrow corridors. Only the gang leaders with money and power can afford basic services like medical care and their own cell, and many crime lords run their empires from within their cell thanks to easy access to mobile phones and the internet.
Like something out of a nightmarish post apocalypse movie, La Sabaneta truly is hell on earth for those unfortunate enough to be condemned to be imprisoned within its walls.
3. Gldani Prison, Tbilisi, Georgia
Prisoner on prisoner violence, whilst terrifying, is not completely unsurprising. However Gldani prison in Georgia is a place where the prison guards are the ones carrying out the assaults, rapes, and torture. Inmates are completely defenceless and at the mercy of the guards who have the power of gods within its walls, and often put those powers to use, acting with impunity.
The horrors going on at the prison first came to public attention in 2012 when video footage was leaked which contained scenes of guard on inmate assault, torture, and rape. In one scene a prisoner is shown being sexually assaulted with a broom handle, while in others inmates are shown being beaten and tortured. Such punishments are handed out by the guards for no reason other than their own enjoyment and to punish the prisoners who they see as subhuman.
Overcrowding, poor medical care, and unsanitary conditions pale in comparison to the reign of terror and sexual abuse that the prison guards indulged in. Since the video was released, the government has launched an investigation into the abuse due to widespread public protests, and has fired several guards, however it is unknown whether the situation has been completely resolved.
What makes this situation even more unsettling is that many of the inmates are petty criminals and thieves, and in a country with an acquittal rate of just 0.1%, its not unreasonable to assume that there are also many innocent men behind bars being tortured. In fact, being charged with any offence could land you in Gldani and at the mercy of its sadistic guards.
2. Gitarama Central Prison, Rwanda (Now Renamed Muhanga Prison)
Gitarama is the most overcrowded prison on earth, containing 7,000 inmates squeezed into a facility designed for just 400. However in a country like Rwanda, where half a million people were slaughtered in a genocide, prisoner conditions and not at the forefront of many citizens minds, particularly when many of the prisoners actively took part in that genocide.
Within the prison each man has no more than half a square yard of space – many have no choice but to stand up all day, and they must sleep huddled together wherever they can, such is the chronic lack of space. Most of the inmates time is spent in outside in the courtyard as indoor space and shelter is so sought after. There is practically no sanitation, and the floor is covered with raw sewage. Many of the inmates have had their feet, legs or toes amputated due to infections from standing on the filthy floor for such long periods of time.
The overcrowding is so severe that many inmates die from suffocation and disease, and at the height of the overcrowding in the 1990’s, there were multiple deaths per day. The ill were left to die due to lack of medical care, and many prisoners suffer from horrific wounds such as burst ear drums, rotting flesh, and even bites.
Due to the heaving mass of flesh inside, few outsiders are able to gain access inside, but there are all the usual horrors reported including violence, murder and rape. AIDS has spread like wildfire killing many, along with other infectious diseases. Such death is made worse by the paltry one meal a day fed to the prisoners, further compromising their immune systems.
Since the 1990’s the prison was renamed and conditions were improved slightly and overcrowding was eased, however it still ranks as one of the worst prisons on the planet. In a place like this, even laying down is considered a luxury. Accused of genocide, most prisoners awaited death, but this prison just goes to show that some things are worse than death. Perhaps for many of the prisoners here, when death finally does come, it will at least be an escape from the hell on earth that was Gitarama.
1. Camp 22, North Korea
Camp 22 is political prison which is nothing short of a concentration camp. It is totally cut off from the outside world, and all inmates are sentenced to lifelong detention. The camp is huge, sprawling across 87 square miles, surrounded by electric fences, and overseen by heavily armed guards. Inside an estimated 50,000 prisoners languish, most there simply for the crime of criticising the government, all of whom will stay there until they die. What is even more shocking is that camp 22 is just one of up to 30 such concentration camps operational in North Korea.
Conditions inside are clearly made as terrible as possible. Malnutrition is the norm, and inmates are kept near starvation, appearing as skeletal figures covered in rags. Rations are said to be a meagre 6 ounces of corn twice a day, and inmates must hunt rats and snakes if they want to increase their calorie intake. Because of this serious lack of food, as many as 2000 of the prison population die each year from starvation, many of whom are just children.
All prisoners are expected to work, and used as slave labour for industry and agriculture, carrying out hard physical work with primitive tools. Medical care is non existent and the sick are simply quarantined and left to die.
Unsurprisingly, the guards deal with the prisoners with extreme brutality. Beatings are routine, and guards are taught to view inmates as subhuman slaves. They have the power of life and death over the inmates, and are allowed to kill a prisoner simply for disobeying orders. Rape is commonplace, and punishment can be meted out for the smallest of infractions, such as not bowing before the guards quickly or deeply enough. There are even reports of human experimentation taking place at camp 22.
Due to the secretive nature of North Korean society, the true horrors unfolding at camp 22 and places like it may never be known, however even from the small amount of evidence that has been gathered, it is clear that camp 22 is the most barbaric prison on the face of the planet.
So thats my selection for 5 of the worst and most barbaric prisons in the world, I really hope you enjoyed the video, let me know what you thought of my choices in the comments below, and I hope to see you again on the next video!