10 worst prisons in history.
How far should you go to keep dangerous criminals in check? From inmates turning to cannibalism, to the modern day dungeon that practices genital electrocution. We reveal the worst prisons of all time and their horrific practices.
10. La Santé
Horrific abuse in France’s La Santé led to hundreds of prisoner suicides between 1999 and 2003. Prisoners would kill themselves by swallowing rat poison, rusty forks, or drain cleaner.
Prison officials described wading through blood in the corridors, and how they witnessed the jail’s criminal kingpins force weaker prisoners into slavery. A 2000 investigation discovered inmates suffering from horrific skin diseases brought on by rotting prison food.
Before it was closed for renovation, it was discovered that many of the prisoners had been internally lacerated from being raped by prison guards. Meanwhile, unruly prisoners were put in solitary confinement and tear gassed.
9. Tadmor Military Prison
In 1980 Syrian military commander Rifaat al-Assad ordered that all 600 inmates in the country’s Tadmor prison be massacred. It took two weeks for the resulting bloody mess to be cleaned. By this time, corpse bacteria had spread, infecting new prisoners with gangrene. Gruesome torture and execution methods included prisoners being axed into cubes, forced to stand in water up to their nostrils, and being dragged to death. By 2011 the prison housed anti-government rebels, but in 2015 ISIS stormed the prison, freed inmates, and blew up the remaining buildings.
In 1992 Brazil’s Carandiru Prison became the scene of a macabre massacre when police stormed the grounds to put down a prisoner revolt. Over the course of just half an hour, police shot 111 prisoners to death. These included surrendering inmates, who were murdered by guards as they cowered in their cells begging for mercy. In 2002 Carandiru finally closed shortly after prisoners coordinated simultaneous revolts across 27 compounds.
7. Gldani Prison
Georgia’s Gldani Prison made the headlines in 2012 when footage emerged of guards mercilessly sodomizing inmates with brooms as they screamed in agony. Others were captured, stretched out, and chained to their cell bars as guards yelled abuse at them. In one incident a lit cigarette was inserted into an inmate’s anus. When it was extracted, the victim was forced to smoke it. When the video surfaced, many were relieved that the catalogue of abuse stretching back years was finally public. It resulted in resignations from top ministers and police.
6, Petak Island
Petak Island Prison is a sinister island fortress on Russia’s icy White Lake. Prisoners are psychologically tortured through isolation, as they are detained in tiny, unlit cells for over 22 hours a day. The rest of the time they are locked in outdoor cages. Inmates are only allowed two visits a year and amenities such as books and heating are banned. With no bathroom facilities, prisoners share bucket chamber pots. These poor hygiene standards have contributed to the spread of tuberculosis, which afflicts half of the inmates.
5. Ban Kwang Prison
Until 2013 all prisoners in Thailand’s notorious Ban Kwang prison were shackled in leg irons for their first 3 months inside. Disturbingly, those with death sentences were welded in permanently, and often given only two hours notice before facing a firing squad. If prisoners want more than their daily bowl of soup and rice, they must become personal slaves for guards and wealthier prisoners. The plumbing in Ban Kwang is not maintained, so inmates are constantly exposed to toxic sewage fumes and must bathe in diseased stream water.
4. Gitarama Prison
In 1995 Gitarama Prison was considered the world’s most overcrowded prison. Despite its capacity for only 400 prisoners, it actually held around 7000. Most of these were perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. With no space, inmates were forced to stand day and night, leading over 40% of them to get gangrene on their feet, which rotted off. At least five prisoners died daily due to the disgusting conditions inside. With extreme food shortages, prisoners frequently killed each other and ate the bodies to survive. Within a year of the end of the genocide in 1994, thousands had suffocated to death within its airless walls.
3. El Rodeo
Venezuela’s El Rodeo prison is sharply divided between the weak and the strong. Powerful inmates openly sell drugs and use facilities including a disco, gym, and internet café funded by a former prisoner. Beyond this, gang warfare rages furiously. In 2011 violent prisoners took 1000 others hostage and rioted, leaving at least 20 dead. National Guard troops were unable to restore order for days, as armed inmates threatened to butcher their hostages. The uprising was inspired by a 1994 riot in the country’s Maracaibo jail, in which 130 prisoners were burned alive or killed with machetes.
2. Pitesti Prison
Pitesti Prison is infamous for having the most severe and comprehensive brainwashing torture program. Under Communist rule, Romanian authorities disciplined political dissidents by forcing them to torture each other, attend Marxist seminars, and renounce their religious beliefs. Inmates faced a daily “baptism”, where their heads were plunged into festering buckets of urine and faeces. Other humiliating exercises included writing autobiographies describing themselves in grotesque, inhuman terms, and cleaning the floor using a rag clenched between their teeth.
1. Diyarbakir Prison
Turkey’s Diyarbakir prison has a shocking history of torture, which includes inmates being beaten on the soles of their feet with a wooden bat before having their spines stamped on. Former inmates recall being hung naked from walls and having electric wires attached to their anuses and genitals, before being administered scarring shocks. Some prisoners are forced to eat rotting rat carcasses and excrement. In one incident a huge truncheon was inserted into a prisoner’s anus, with others forced to suck the implement clean.