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Rediff.com  » News » The flipside: World's most DANGEROUS prisons

The flipside: World's most DANGEROUS prisons

Last updated on: August 1, 2011 09:30 IST

The flipside: World's most DANGEROUS prisons

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After we saw the luxuries of the Halden prison in Norway, where Anders Behring Breivik, the gunman who orchestrated the deadliest terror strike in Oslo since the World War II last month, might stay if convicted, it's time to show the flipside.

Barring exceptions, it's anybody's guess that prisons are definitely not the most luxurious places to be. But there are some prisons in the world where, forget luxuries, nightmares become your reality.

Rediff.com takes a look at some of the most dangerous prisons in the world, where, come what may, you would never, never like to end up in!

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ADX Florence, United States

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The United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) is a supermax prison (or a control unit prison) for men that is located in Fremont County, Colorado. It is unofficially known as ADX Florence, and is extremely infamous and often being called 'nothing but slow and painful torture.'

As it houses the one of the most dangerous prisoners in US, ADX Florence puts in a six-layered security set up for every inmate.

These prisoners are kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day for at least the first year. Depending on their records, they can be let out for longer periods.

Often the target of human rights activists, the prison has seen 'thousands of forced feedings' and four suicides.

A former ADX warden described the place as 'a cleaner version of Hell.'


Image: The ADX supermax prison in Colorado, US

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Tadmor military prison, Syria

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The Tadmor prison is located in Palmyra in the deserts of eastern Syria. The structures were originally built as military barracks by the French Mandate forces.

Tadmor prison is known for harsh conditions, extensive human rights abuse, torture and summary executions.

Many allege 'innocent and guilty alike have been dragged via a rope until they're dead, beaten to death with pipes and chopped into pieces with an axe' in this prison.'

However on June 27, 1980, more than 1,000 inmates were killed by the Syrian paramilitary forces (Defence Birgades), under the leadership of Rifat-al-Assad, the brother of former Syrian president Hafiz al-Assad, who stormed in Tadmor prison to avenge the failed assassination bid on Hafiz the previous day.


Image: Blindfolded inmates at the Tadmor military prison in Palmyra, Syria

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Carandiru Penitentiary, Brazil

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Carandiru Penitentiary was a notorious prison located in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which was finally shut in 2002 following a deadly massacre in 1992 within its premises that killed 111 inmates.

Once one of the biggest prisons in Latin America which housed more than 8,000 inmates at a time, brutal torture wasn't the only thing that made Carandiru Penitentiary one of worst prisons in the world.

Nearly a fifth of the total inmates had HIV and a majority of them didn't have it when they entered the prison, reports have claimed.


Image: A guard with handcuffs watches prisoners arrive at the Carandiru Penitentiary prison in Sao Paulo
Photographs: Reuters
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La Sante Prison, Paris

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The La Sante Prison in Paris is regarded as one of the worst in the world, especially because of its unbelievable suicide rates.

It's alleged that 124 suicides occurred in this prison in 1999 alone. 'Prisoners have actually eaten rat poison to escape the depravity here,' a report stated.


Image: Cells at the La Sante prison in Paris
Photographs: Reuters
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Diyarbakir Prison, Turkey

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Diyarbakir Prison is a prison located in Diyarbakır, southeastern Turkey. It was built in 1980 as an 'E-type prison' by the Turkish ministry of justice.

Although it is impossible to list all the methods of torture that were used, testimonies reveal that among the most common practices were: severe and systematic beating, pulling of hair, being stripped naked, being blindfolded and hosed, solitary confinement, death threats, the obligation to salute Captain Esat Oktay Yıldıran's dog, a German shepherd called "Jo", which was trained to bite the private parts of naked prisoners, sleep, sensory, water and food deprivation for extensive periods, etc.

Squeezing or crushing of limbs and genitalia, piling of naked prisoners on top of each other, asphyxia and mock executions, electric shocks (specifically electrodes attached to genitals), burning with cigarettes, extraction of nails and healthy teeth, forcing prisoners to mix with inmates with tuberculosis, sexual humiliation and assault and forced feeding of rotten/contaminated food or feces, are some of the other torture-techniques allegedly pursued in the prison.


Image: The Diyarbakir Prison

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Bangkwang Prison, Thailand

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The Bangkwang prison in Thailand is regarded the worst in the world as its overcrowded and torturous. A report on anarchology.org stated, 'Bangkwang is understaffed, overcrowded, and filled with inmates who struggle with insanity as they spend the first months of their sentences chained in leg irons.'

The report further adds, "If you find yourself on death row at Bangkwang, you will have leg irons welded on until your execution, and you will be given only two hours notice before dying by lethal injection."


Image: A guard stands at Bangkwang Central Prison on the outskirts of Bangkok
Photographs: Reuters
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San Quentin prison, California, US

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In the 1930's, San Quentin prison in California was rife with corruption by management, until a new director, Clinton Truman Duffy, appalled at the inhumane conditions at the prison, decided to implement reforms in the 1940's.

Prior to his appointment, prisoners made counterfeit currency in the prison shops, had their heads shaved and were forced to wear numbered uniforms, while eating out of pails and enduring solitary confinement in poured-concrete cells that had little air and no light. Even a petty offense to prison regulations would land an inmate in solitary, and race riots would put inmate lives at risk on a regular basis.

San Quentin is still a harsh environment, filled with California's most violent offenders, and the high ratio of guards to general population, just barely keeps the prison system from spiraling out of control.


Image: The death chamber at California's San Quentin State Prison is shown in this undated file photograph
Photographs: Reuters
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That's not all!

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Some other prisons across the globe which are equally notorious are Alcatraz Prison in California (now closed), situated on an island where escaping is unthinkable, La Sabeneta Prison in Venezuela where 196 inmates were allegedly murdered in 1995 alone and the Rikers Prison in New York.

The Camp 22 (Kwan-Li-So No 22, Haengyong) in North Korea, Black Beach prison in Equatorial Guinea where 'starvation deaths' are normal, Al-Ha'ir Prison in Saudi Arabia where torture deaths regularly occur and the 'psychologically destructive' Petak Island prison in Russia are some other examples.


Image: Lighthouse on the former island prison of Alcatraz flashes at dusk in San Francisco Bay
Photographs: Reuters
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