back to top

14 Prisons That Will Make You Question What You Think About Serving Time

If you have to do time, do time in style.

Posted on

1. Addiewell Prison, Scotland

To some, Addiewell might feel like being locked up in an Ikea. The facility was designed for "learning," as a place for prisoners to address their offending behavior and what caused their imprisonment in the first place. The learning aspect aims to improve prisoners' employability prospects, their well-being, and community support networks.

2. Bastøy Prison, Norway

Bastøy is a minimum-security prison on Bastøy Island, Norway, that houses 115 inmates. Originally a prison colony for boys, the facility has been revamped as "the first eco prison in the world." During their free time, inmates have access to horseback riding, tennis, fishing, and skiing. Recidivism is reported to be around 16%, compared to the European average of about 70%.

3. Leoben Justice Center, Austria

Seems like Austria is the place to be for nonviolent criminals. Inmates at the Leoben Justice Center are given private rooms with a kitchenette, personal bathroom, and a TV. No word on whether or not good behavior earns you a Sega Genesis with Sonic & Knuckles.

4. Al Capone's cell in Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary

Thesab / Via

Al Capone spent his time at Eastern State in pretty cushy digs. He had an oriental rug, expensive furniture, and his very own radio. The perks of being a gangster with influence.


6. The Squirrel Cage Jail, Iowa

View this video on YouTube

The Squirrel Cage Jail consisted of a series of narrow, connected, pie-shaped cells. The entire jail could be rotated, meaning a guard wouldn't have to move to monitor prisoners. The facility closed in 1969, but some claim the prison is haunted.

7. Cereso Chetumal, Mexico

Flickr: kwdesigns

At Cereso Chetumal, there has been no violence in many years. According to warden Victor Terrazes, "When there is a disagreement, we have the inmates involved put on the gloves and get into the boxing ring. After about two rounds the dispute is usually over." The prison also has an arts and crafts program, where inmates are encouraged to be creative and sell their work to tourists.


9. ADX Florence, Colorado

The Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado is a supermax facility intended to house the most dangerous criminals. Cells consist of solid, poured concrete so furniture can't be moved or used to hide dangerous items. Prisoners are kept completely isolated with only a tiny, four-inch slit to gaze out upon the world.

11. Halden Prison, Norway

View this video on YouTube

Called "the most humane prison" by Time, Halden features multiple kitchens and living rooms, plus jogging trails and a sound studio. Cooking and music classes offered, as well. Only 20% of Norway's criminals reoffend, compared to 50–60% in the U.K. and U.S.

12. San Pedro Prison, Bolivia

San Pedro isn't "nice" exactly, but it's certainly notable. Inmates at the prison have jobs inside the community, buy or rent their accommodation, and often live with their families. Tourism is popular, and savvy inmates can move up into cushier accommodations. Stabbings are somewhat commonplace, but the buildings are a pretty shade of teal, huh?

13. Čachtice Castle

Flickr: peterfenda

In 1611, Čachtice Castle is where Elizabeth Báthory served out her life sentence for kidnapping, murdering, and bathing in the blood of young girls. If you absolutely must bathe in virgin blood to stay young, make sure you’re Hungarian royalty so you can do your time imprisoned in a castle overlooking a Slovakian nature reserve.

14. Cebu Prison, Philippines

View this video on YouTube

Correctional facilities in the Philippines aren't generally noted for their luxury, but any prison that choreographs inmates into giant Michael Jackson flash mobs can't be all bad, right?