More and more people are behind bars. According to the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, over 10.35 million individuals are being held in penal institutions throughout the world, either as pre-trial detainees/remand prisoners or having been convicted and sentenced.


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In comparison to the year 2000, the total number of women serving time has increased about 50% while the male prison population has grown by about 18%. But prison population rates vary considerably all around the globe. For instance, the United States have 698 inmates for every 100,000 citizens while Denmark has 61. And there are more differences, too. A prisoner in one place might have access to musical instruments and video games but might be fighting over a roll of toilet paper in another.

Bored Panda has collected photos of cells from all over to show how different countries treat their criminals, and the contrast is eye-opening. The prison cells in this list vary from low security to max security, and while they can't be all compared directly, it gives us a pretty good sense how different countries deal with criminals. It might be due to economic reasons or the way societies value life, but if you found the information above a bit grey, the images below will definitely grab everyone's attention.

#1 Aranjuez Prison, Aranjuez, Spain

Aranjuez Prison, Aranjuez, Spain

Spain's Aranjuez Prison lets parents and children stay with their incarcerated family members. With Disney characters on the walls, a nursery, and a playground, the goal is to prevent kids from realizing, as long as possible, that a parent is behind bars

Associated Press , usatoday30 Report

diane a 3 months ago

I think that's wonderful - the children and families have not comitted the crime

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#2 Luzira Prison, Kampala, Uganda

Luzira Prison, Kampala, Uganda

In Luzira, inmates are assigned more responsibility that would be in similar prisons in the United Kingdom or the USA. Inmates assume responsibility for maintenance of harmony and functionality of the units where they live, including the growing and harvesting of food, its preparation and its distribution within the prison. Learning is encouraged, with many men learning and teaching carpentry skills to others. The guard to prisoner ration in Luzira... Read More

In Luzira, inmates are assigned more responsibility that would be in similar prisons in the United Kingdom or the USA. Inmates assume responsibility for maintenance of harmony and functionality of the units where they live, including the growing and harvesting of food, its preparation and its distribution within the prison. Learning is encouraged, with many men learning and teaching carpentry skills to others. The guard to prisoner ration in Luzira is about 1:35, compared to 1:15 in the UK. Aggression among inmates is the exception and not the rule. The recidivism rate in Luzira is less than 30 percent, compared with 46 percent in the UK and 76 percent in the United States

NTVUganda , Wikipedia Report

BlackestDawn 3 months ago

Seems they are doing the right thing here, focusing much more on rehabilitation than just straight up incarceration.

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#3 Bastøy Prison, Horten, Norway

Bastøy Prison, Horten, Norway

Bastøy prison is the largest low-security prison in Norway. The prison is located at Bastøy island in the Oslo Fiord, belonging to Horten municipality. The prison uses the whole island, but the northern part with the beach Nordbukta is defined as open to the public. The prison is organized as a small local community with about 80 buildings, roads, beach zones, cultural landscape, football field, agricultural land and forest. In addition to... Read More

Bastøy prison is the largest low-security prison in Norway. The prison is located at Bastøy island in the Oslo Fiord, belonging to Horten municipality. The prison uses the whole island, but the northern part with the beach Nordbukta is defined as open to the public. The prison is organized as a small local community with about 80 buildings, roads, beach zones, cultural landscape, football field, agricultural land and forest. In addition to the prison functions, there is a shop, library, information office, health services, church, school, NAV (government social services), dock, ferry service (with its own shipping agency) and a lighthouse with facilities to let for smaller meetings and seminars. On Bastoy prison island, the prisoners, some of whom are murderers and rapists, live in conditions that critics brand 'cushy' and 'luxurious'. Yet it has by far the lowest reoffending rate in Europe

Marco Di Lauro , Bastøy prison Report

Hans 3 months ago

It is easy to imagine these people moving back to society. Good for them (obvious), good for society (adding skill again, this time for right-doing), good for the state (prisons costs enormous amounts of money).

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#4 Halden Prison, Halden‎, Norway

Halden Prison, Halden‎, Norway

Halden Prison is a maximum-security prison in Halden, Norway. It has three main units and receives prisoners from all over the world, but has no conventional security devices. The second-largest prison in Norway, it was established in 2010 with a focus on rehabilitation; its design simulates life outside the prison. Among other activities, sports and music are available to the prisoners, who interact with the unarmed staff to create a... Read More

Halden Prison is a maximum-security prison in Halden, Norway. It has three main units and receives prisoners from all over the world, but has no conventional security devices. The second-largest prison in Norway, it was established in 2010 with a focus on rehabilitation; its design simulates life outside the prison. Among other activities, sports and music are available to the prisoners, who interact with the unarmed staff to create a sense of community. Praised for its humane conditions, Halden Prison has received the Arnstein Arneberg Award for its interior design in 2010 and been the subject of a documentary, but has also received criticism for being too liberal.

Knut Egil Wang , The New York Times Report

로희 3 months ago

This looks like a hotel room from some 3-star hotels in my country.

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#5 Onomichi Prison, Onomichi, Japan

Onomichi Prison, Onomichi, Japan

Elderly prisons are becoming more common in Japan as the country continues to age. Onomichi Prison hosts an all-senior population. Inmates have access to handrails, soft food, and spend their working hours knitting and sewing

Prison Photography , Washington Post Report

MeggersTheFox 3 months ago

It's amazing to see how respected and well-treated the elders in Japan are, even in prisons.

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#6 Norgerhaven Prison, Veenhuizen, Netherlands

Norgerhaven Prison, Veenhuizen, Netherlands

Inmates at the Norgerhaven prison in Veenhuizen, Netherlands, have a bed, furniture, a refrigerator, and a TV in their cells, as well as a private bathroom. The crime rates in the Netherlands are so low, that they faced an “undercrowding” crisis. To solve this “problem”, the country struck a deal with Norway in 2015, to take on their prison overflow. Now part of Norwegian inmates serve their sentences in Norgerhaven.

ANP , Norwegian Correctional Service Report

Dian Ella Lillie 3 months ago

Norway and the Netherlands are proof that treating your prisoners well doesn't result in increased crime rates, and in fact it contributes to the opposite. It's not just this though - both countries have a better attiude to social welfare generally, and they both have a highly developed culture of egalitariansim and looking out for each other, and this is why Scandiavia and the northwest of Europe contains some of the 'happiest' countries in the world. The every-man-for-himself corporate capitalism of the US is a failure compared to the social democracies of the Vikings and their descendants.

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#7 HMP Addiewell, Lothian, Scotland

HMP Addiewell, Lothian, Scotland

HMP Addiewell is a learning prison, where residents can address their offending behaviour and the circumstances which led to their imprisonment through Purposeful Activity. Purposeful activities include education, counseling and work. Nature and family contact whilst in prison is also a fundamental element of the rehabilitation process.

Lorenzo Dalberto , hmpaddiewell Report

Carol Emory 3 months ago

I have a friend whose niece was raped by a man sent here. Hopefully his most powerful lesson he will learn will be understanding what the words "no" and "get your hands off me" means...

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#8 Black Dolphin Prison, Sol-Iletsk, Russia

Black Dolphin Prison, Sol-Iletsk, Russia

At Russia's notorious Black Dolphin Prison on the border of Kazakhstan, inmates share small 50-square-foot cells that are set back behind three sets of steel doors. Inmates live in a "cell within a cell”, with 24-hour surveillance. Black Dolphin houses the most brutal criminals, including serial killers, cannibals, and terrorists. A prison lieutenant told National Geographic, which did a documentary on the facility, that the only way to escape is... Read More

At Russia's notorious Black Dolphin Prison on the border of Kazakhstan, inmates share small 50-square-foot cells that are set back behind three sets of steel doors. Inmates live in a "cell within a cell”, with 24-hour surveillance. Black Dolphin houses the most brutal criminals, including serial killers, cannibals, and terrorists. A prison lieutenant told National Geographic, which did a documentary on the facility, that the only way to escape is by dying. If you combine all the crimes of the inmates, they have killed about 3,500 people. That's an average of five murders per inmate.

The Sun , Business Insider Report

Linda Matheny 3 months ago

I saw that documentary as well. They don't sugar coat your crime. If you are fortunate enough to get out of that place, you won't commit another crime

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#9 Champ-Dollon Prison, Geneva, Switzerland

Champ-Dollon Prison, Geneva, Switzerland

Opened in 1977, the main function of Geneva’s Champ-Dollon prison is to hold prisoners before trial and sentencing. The numbers of inmates is constantly increasing, which has lead to a chronic problem of overcrowding. 115 different nationalities were represented in the prison in 2010 with just 7.2% Swiss.

swissinfo Report

diane a 3 months ago

People absolutely should be held in good conditions before being convicted of any crime

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#10 The Las Colinas Detention And Reentry Facility, Santee, California

The Las Colinas Detention And Reentry Facility, Santee, California

The prison was designed to be the first detention facility of its kind in the U.S. where environmental and behavioral psychology are used to “improve the experience and behavior of both inmates and staff”

BDC Network Report

Night Owl 3 months ago

Finally some positive news about US prisons

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