Here are the most violent prisons on earth. These maximum security prisons are the worst jail cells in the world for prisoners.
3: Bang Kwang Prison
Situated next to the Chaopraya River—approximately seven miles from Bangkok in an outskirt town called Nonthaburi—is Bang Kwang Prison (also known in Thailand as “The Big Tiger”). This prison will eat men alive. It is a male-only maximum security jail. Bang Kwang prison was built in the 1930’s with a capacity of 4,000 prisoners. But it is currently overcrowded with more than 8,000 convicts. This is the only prison in Thailand with an execution chamber, designed to handle its convicts who are on death row. The outside walls of the prison are 6 meters high & armed with high voltage wires. Its 80-acre compound area is divided into 13 separate sections, including 11 dining halls & 11 dormitories. A hospital has also been built within the prison compound, which is quite rare for a jail. Every cell measures in at 19.5 feet by 13 feet, each cell housing between 20-30 convicts. Prisoners at Bang Kwang generally spend 14 hours a day in their packed cells. There are three types of criminals being held at this prison. The first is convicts who are awaiting their pending appeals from the Supreme Court. The second type is criminals who have been sentenced to 25 years to life in imprisonment. The last type of criminal is convicts who are awaiting execution after being sentenced to death. For the first three months of their sentences, all prisoners must wear leg iron chains around their ankles. To make it even more haunting, death row prisoners are obligated to have leg irons welded on to their ankles; an aspect that has made Bang Kwang notorious. Since October 2003, its execution method has been changed from a firing squad to lethal injection. In addition, the prison has no sewage system, meaning the convicts’ feces is gathered up in a concrete vault, allowing disease-carrying fumes to escape. Due to the horrific conditions of Bang Kwang Prison, inmates oftentimes suffer from different diseases & illnesses such as heat stroke, dehydration, lice, diarrhea, scabies, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, HIV, skin diseases, & fungal infections. Hepatitis, malaria, and cholera are also commonly contracted. Each prisoner holds an account with the prison canteen & is able to use this account to purchase extra food, which they earn by doing heavy chores around the compound. But despite all that, their most basic meal plan is limited to only one bowl of rice & vegetables per day. There also exists a hierarchy inside, where less wealthy prisoners perform chores for the rich ones. A large number of foreigners have been jailed here to serve long-term sentences. Some Lebanese & Britain inmates were supported with vitamins & better food from their embassies. One such example of a foreigner serving time in Bang Kwang was in 1996 when man from Gibraltar was sentenced to a 200-year sentence, which was later reduced to 99 years. He later contracted tuberculosis & died. It was reported in 2004 that a total of nine British prisoners were serving time here. One of the nine was convicted for smuggling 3,400 ecstasy tablets while another was convicted for smuggling heroin. They received 99 years & 50 years, respectively. There has only been one foreigner (named Alan Davies) who was sentenced to death at Bang Kwang, which took place in 1995. As of 2009, 743 men were recorded to have been on death row. Its sickening conditions & long-sentencing makes Bang Kwang Prison one of the most highly feared prisons in the world.
2: The Gitarama Central Prison
Located 37 miles southwest of Rwanda’s capital city of Kigala, a prison in the town of Gitarama gained a reputation which many expressed to be “hell on earth.” Surrounded by high brick walls, the Gitarama Prison was recorded as the most overcrowded penitentiary in the world. Built for a capacity of only 500 inmates, the prison actually held about 7,000 inmates from 1994-1995. A majority of these convicts were involved in the widely known ‘Rwanda Genocide’ of 1994, where half a million people were slaughtered in the streets & in their homes. The prison blocks of Gitarama Central Prison had basic structures of rows & rows of bunk beds made from wood planks within each cell. Hundreds of prisoners had to find their own space to sleep, if there was any. The prison was so overcrowded that inmates must stand most of the day while having to fit four people in a square yard in its open central courtyard. It was believed that this courtyard (in which the entire prison’s inmates were packed in) had the size of only half an American football field. Whether it was scorching hot or pouring down rain, the Gitarama Prison courtyard did not have any protective covering for its convicts either. As a result of the facility’s horrendous quality, prisoners had no choice but to walk around like farmed cattle in the muddy yard, while their feet rotted from bacteria and gangrene. Anywhere from 5 to 10 prisoners died daily. In addition, 41% were infected on various parts of the body; some were taken to local hospitals in order to have their toes, feet, & legs amputated. Dr. Alison Davis of the relief agency “Doctors Without Borders” stated: “It is horrific, they are being treated like animals.” Since the lines to use the toilets or to receive meals were excessively long, many prisoners have died from suffocation and malnutrition as well. Consequently, they were able to receive only one meal per day due to the length of queue & thus, had resort to another resource for food: human beings. Faced between starving to death or becoming cannibalistic, some choose cannibalism. After the Rwanda massacre, the judicial system also ceased to exist. Therefore, no inmates were given fair trials & instead were automatically thrown into Gitarama Central. Today, the jail has changed its name to the Muhanga Prison. The facilities have improved & the population of prisoners has also decreased significantly. The most recent catastrophe occurred in June, 2014 when the housing facilities of over 3,500 inmates went up in flames, destroying half the prison complex. Fortunately, no one died from the fire as the prisoners had moved away from the facilities for regular fumigation. With its horrific conditions in the past along with its history of cannibalism, the Gitarama Central Prison has come to be known as one of the deadliest prisons you could ever find yourself in.
1: Tadmor Prison
Originally built in the deserts of eastern Syria (124 miles northeast of Damascus) was the Tadmor Prison. It was constructed by the French mandate forces in the 1930s right after World War I. This haunting facility was first used as a military barrack before it was handed over to the Syrian Government. It would later on become known as one of the most notorious prisons in the world. In Arabic, the term “tadmor” is synonymous with torture, madness, horror, or death.
The prison contained 42 dormitories & seven smaller cells, each cell is located next to its own courtyard. Barb wires covered the top of 5 out of the 7 courtyards in order to prevent prisoners from attempting to escape. During the 1970s and ’80s, civilian political figures and people who were believed to be connected to the Muslim brotherhood were arrested by the thousands without given full fair trials. The reason for their arrests was because they protested against the Syrian government’s rule of law at the time under President Assad’s reign. Even though most of those captures were innocent, they were either sentenced to life behind bars or were immediately put to a death sentence by various forms of torture, which the prison was famously known for. Whenever new prisoners arrived, they were savagely beaten with metal pipes and wood pieces. A former inmate tragically explained, “Everyone was in bad condition, their legs bleeding and covered with wounds, as were other parts of their bodies. The pain was very intense, and none of the prisoners was able to stand up as a result….Some of the prisoners died during the ‘reception.’” The whipping and the beating would normally take place in Courtyard five before sending sufferers to their segregated dormitories, unable to move properly in the following week to come. Additionally, the dead bodies were not sent to the family members but instead, were taken to be buried in mass graves near the prison in a place called the Wadi al-Kils Valley. To keep prisoners in a constant state of fear, the innocents were pulled out on random selections to be interrogated and horrendously tortured. These torturing acts were similar to those found during medieval times such as being dragged to death or cut into pieces with an axe. A deadly massacre occurred on June 27th, 1980; the day after a failed assassination attempt on President Assad took place in his home by the Muslim Brotherhood. As a revenge for the attack, President Assad’s brother (Rifaat ordered 60 Syrian Soldiers from the Defense Brigades and the 138th Security Brigade to be flown from Damascus to Tadmor Prison in order to execute all members of the Muslim Brotherhood within the jail. Rifaat’s troops fired their machine guns inside the prison dormitories, killing at least 500 Muslim Brotherhood members. It was rumored that the number of deaths could’ve been as high as 2,400, as each cell in the old section (which was built by Assad himself) held up to 100 captives with a total of 24 cells in the entire prison. According to one survivor named Barra Sarraj—who was imprisoned in 1984 for nine years—he explained in his book “From Tadmor to Harvard” that “Tadmor has no trace of life. There are no books, no radios, nothing. They don’t even have salt to spray over your food. Sometimes there are no needles to sew our clothes. It’s indescribable, and the constant torture, that was unique to that place, at all times, even during the night.” The notorious prison was finally closed in 2001 and the prisoners were transferred to other facilities. But Tadmor was reopened yet again ten years later in 2011 for the arrests of anti-government protesters. Recently in 2015, the Islamic State took over the city of Palmyra. During their initial act, ISIS demolished the renowned Tadmor Prison. Former inmates who survived said they think that the Islamic state should have left the building as a historic symbol, instead of destroying it for emotional closure purposes. Thus, Tadmor Prison’s vicious history easily places it at the top of the list of the world’s most violent prisons you’ll never want to visit.