Justice

This Is What Prison Cells Look Like Around the World

March 8th 2016

By:
Lucy Tiven

Prison inmates experience drastically different living conditions, depending on where they are incarcerated and the level of security of the facility. While some prison cells are quite austere, others look virtually indistinguishable from college dorms in the U.S.

ATTN: took a look at prison cells around the globe to see how they measured up. These are our findings.

1. Halden Prison - Norway

Halden Prison

Halden Prison was hailed by TIME as "the world's most humane prison." There are no bars on windows, and rooms each have a minifridge and flat-screen TV, according to TIME. Inmates also have access to shared kitchens, a rock climbing wall, and a recording studio. The maximum sentence for most crimes is 21 years, according to The New York Times, so the prison's focus is on rehabilitation and simulating life outside rather than isolating prisoners.

2. Justice Center Leoben - Austria

Austria Prison Cell

The nonviolent criminals who end up at the Justice Center Leoben live in private cells with kitchenettes and televisions, according to TakePart. They also have access to a variety of recreational facilities. “They are criminals,” architect Josef Hohensinn told The New York Times, “but they are also human beings. The more normal a life you give them here, the less necessary it is to re-socialize them when they leave.”

3. Addiewell Prison - Scotland

Addiewell Prison Cells

Addiewell Prison was designed with education in mind, BuzzFeed reported, observing that the facility's decor resembles what you might find in an Ikea. Addiewell's incarcerated population — which consists of all types of adult male offenders — is "given 40 hours a week of purposeful activity aimed at building job skills," according to TakePart.

4. Champ-Dollon Prison - Switzerland

Champ Dollan Prison

In 2011, Champ-Dollon opened a new annex after it was criticized for overcrowding by the Council of Europe's anti-torture committee in 2008. Each of the annex rooms has three beds and a private bathroom, according to TakePart.

5. Jakarta Poduk Bambu Prison - Indonesia

Pondok Bambu prison

Jakarta Poduk Bambu prison came under fire in 2010, when Al Jazeera reported that rich prisoners were getting special treatment.

Artalyta Suryani, a businesswoman incarcerated for bribing a prosecutor, was serviced by maids and had access to unlimited visits, beauty treatments, a private bathroom, and a karaoke room, according to Al Jazeera.

"We found a number of wealthy inmates had been provided with exclusive facilities," Denny Indrayana, a member of an investigative team set up by then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, told Al Jazeera in 2010. "They allegedly paid some corrupt individuals in the prison to get all they want. It shows the weakness of our judicial system."

6. Butner Federal Correctional Complex - North Carolina, U.S.

Butner Prison Cell

Butner's low-security federal prison is "considered 'the crown jewel' of the federal prison system," Business Insider reported in 2009. While its inmates aren't in especially cushy quarters compared to some of their counterparts abroad, Butner has medical facilities and a cancer treatment center that have earned praise.

7. Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison - Georgia, U.S.

Georgia Death Row Prison Cell

Prisoners on death row at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison experience the other end of the spectrum of incarcerated experiences. Brandon Astor Jones, who was executed in February, was the prison's oldest death row inmate at the age of 72, according to The New York Times. In 1998, Jones penned an essay in the Canadian New Internationalist describing life on death row, the Intercept reported. Reporter Liliana Segura wrote:

"It described the small ways he sought to ward off the intense sensory deprivation of death row: collecting scraps of wood to be able to feel their natural texture, picking a bay leaf out of one of his meals and taking it back to his cell, where 'I washed it off,' he wrote, and carefully stored it for months."