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The World’s Toughest And Cushiest Prisons

When you commit a crime, you do the time: but depending on what crime and where you live, the prison time could range from hellish to pretty swanky.

Tough prisons in both the developed and undeveloped world utilize high-tech and structural maximum security techniques to keep prisoners in, without much regard to their happiness.

This model makes sense, considering prison time is for the protection of society and punishment of criminals, especially those that commit serious crimes. Even so, there are also a number of minimum-security prisons across the globe known for providing inmates both comfort and perks.

Here’s a look at some of the toughest prisons in the world and their oddly cushy counterparts.

Tough prisons with uncomfortable arrangements:

  • ADX Florence, Colorado: Considered the most secure prison in the world, this facility keeps prisoners in their cells all day, keeping some of the most dangerous criminals in solitary confinement. This isolation leads to psychological trauma for many.
  • Arthur Road Jail, India: Also known as Mumbai Central Prison, this detention center is Mumbai’s largest. The prison is overcrowded and disease-ridden, but inmates are unable to achieve better conditions short of bribery. The jail is said to be bomb-proof.
  • Quincheng Prison, China: This maximum-security prison has the highest watchtowers in the world, 5,000 security personnel, and advanced surveillance. It is located 3,000 feet above sea level, making escape all but impossible.
  • Camp 22, North Korea: No prisoners have lived to describe North Korea’s most brutal political detention camp, but former guards say detainees were often crippled within three months and dead within five. Reports say the “prison within a prison” has shut down, but thousands of inmates remain unaccounted for.

On the other side of the spectrum, check out these prisons, which sound more like luxury condos:

  • Halden Prison, Norway: Considered one of the world’s most “humane” prisons, this Oslo facility offers private bathrooms, shared kitchens, a rock wall and recording studio. It is designed for rehabilitation, as Norway has a maximum penalty of 21 years for all crimes, even murder.
  • Otago Corrections Facility, New Zealand: With a main goal of preventing re-offending, this New Zealand prison not only offers comfortable rooms, but job training in fields like engineering, dairy farming, and cooking.
  • Aranjuez Prison, Spain: This prison, which has family-friendly cells and playgrounds, was designed so that kids could spend time with incarcerated parents, and parents to develop parent skills.
  • FPC Pensacola, Florida: This minimum security prison camp, considered one of America’s cushiest prisons, is a temporary home for many white-collar criminals who can enjoy park visits with their family three days a week, along with access to quality jobs and recreation.
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If you’re the criminal, the latter list is definitely the preferable one. But if you were, say, the victim of the criminal, would you want the perp milking cows in a valley, sunbathing, and going on weekend picnics?

Obviously, it depends very much on crime, location, and even social status where the convicted end up, and for how long. Dangerous criminals easily earn maximum security confinement, while non-violent ones may indeed be better suited for more rehabilitative programs.

Whether the accompanied lows (death) and highs (launching a music career) are necessary is another story.

Whatever the case, the diversity of prisons across the U.S. and the globe suggest that there isn’t one right type of prison for every type of criminal. And if there is, it hasn’t been found quite yet.

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Jennifer Markert