These photos of prison cells around the world show how differently countries treat their criminals

Haiti prison

Dieu Nalio Chery/AP

A cell in Haiti's Civil Prison in Arcahaiea shows how its prisoners live.

  • Prison conditions vary widely around the world.
  • The wide range of prison conditions reflects how each country treats its criminals.
  • You can see examples of prison cells around the world below, from comfortable single bedrooms in Norway to overcrowded and run-down facilities in Malawi.


Prison cells vary widely from country to country.

Prisoners in Norway, for example, don't have bars in their rooms, and have access to musical instruments, DVDs, and video games. Meanwhile, in Malawi, a typical cell is squalid and packed with dozens of prisoners.

The wide range of conditions reflects how each country treats its criminals, and raises the question of whether prison is meant to punish them or rehabilitate them.

Read on to see what prison cells look like around the world.

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USA: San Quentin State Prison is the oldest prison in California. It's a maximum-security facility that once housed Charles Manson.

USA: San Quentin State Prison is the oldest prison in California. It's a maximum-security facility that once housed Charles Manson.

USA: Rikers Island in New York City was named one of America's 10 worst prisons by Mother Jones. The prison is known for inmate violence and abuse at the hands of staff.

USA: Rikers Island in New York City was named one of America's 10 worst prisons by Mother Jones. The prison is known for inmate violence and abuse at the hands of staff.

Source: Mother Jones

USA: The Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, is a medium-security facility that houses about 1,000 male inmates.

USA: The Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, is a medium-security facility that houses about 1,000 male inmates.

Source: Federal Bureau of Prisons

CANADA: Bordeaux Prison in Montreal houses 1,000 to 1,500 male inmates with sentences of two years or less

CANADA: Bordeaux Prison in Montreal houses 1,000 to 1,500 male inmates with sentences of two years or less

Source: CTV News Montreal

HAITI: Civil Prison in the coastal town of Arcahaiea is notoriously overcrowded. In 2016, 174 inmates escaped during a riot that left one guard dead and others injured.

HAITI: Civil Prison in the coastal town of Arcahaiea is notoriously overcrowded. In 2016, 174 inmates escaped during a riot that left one guard dead and others injured.

Source: Telegraph

MEXICO: Penal del Altiplano is a high-security prison in Almoloya de Juárez. It was thought to be the most secure prison in Mexico until Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán escaped from it in 2015.

MEXICO: Penal del Altiplano is a high-security prison in Almoloya de Juárez. It was thought to be the most secure prison in Mexico until Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán escaped from it in 2015.

Source: Business Insider

COLOMBIA: At El Buen Pastor women's prison in Bogota, as many as 20 inmates can be assigned to a single cell.

COLOMBIA: At El Buen Pastor women's prison in Bogota, as many as 20 inmates can be assigned to a single cell.

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

BRAZIL: Inmates face mortal danger at Desembargador Raimundo Vidal Pessoa penitentiary in Manaus. Four people were killed in an inmate uprising last year, and dozens were killed in other prisons in the city.

BRAZIL: Inmates face mortal danger at Desembargador Raimundo Vidal Pessoa penitentiary in Manaus. Four people were killed in an inmate uprising last year, and dozens were killed in other prisons in the city.

Source: Reuters

GERMANY: Conditions are considerably better at Landsberg Prison in Landsberg am Lech. The progressive prison provides training and skills to inmates in fields like baking, carpentry, and painting.

GERMANY: Conditions are considerably better at Landsberg Prison in Landsberg am Lech. The progressive prison provides training and skills to inmates in fields like baking, carpentry, and painting.

Source: The Local

NORWAY: Jails in Norway are meant to mimic outside conditions as much as possible to prepare inmates to reenter society. At Oslos' Skien prison, inmates have private bathrooms, a TV, and video games.

NORWAY: Jails in Norway are meant to mimic outside conditions as much as possible to prepare inmates to reenter society. At Oslos' Skien prison, inmates have private bathrooms, a TV, and video games.

Source: Splinter

NETHERLANDS: Inmates at Norgerhaven prison in Veenhuizen have a bed, furniture, a refrigerator, and a TV in their cells, as well as a private bathroom. They also get a window with a view to the prison yard.

NETHERLANDS: Inmates at Norgerhaven prison in Veenhuizen have a bed, furniture, a refrigerator, and a TV in their cells, as well as a private bathroom. They also get a window with a view to the prison yard.

Source: Norwegian Correctional Service

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Detention Unit outside the Hague, Netherlands, is where more than 100 war criminals are housed. Each cell contains a TV, but inmates do not get internet access.

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Detention Unit outside the Hague, Netherlands, is where more than 100 war criminals are housed. Each cell contains a TV, but inmates do not get internet access.

Source: Radio Free Europe

MALAWI: Maula Prison in Lilongwe is severely overcrowded — in 2015, almost 200 people were crammed into one 60-person cell. Prisoners there, many of whom are Ethiopian migrants, share one toilet between 120 people and one tap to 900 people.

MALAWI: Maula Prison in Lilongwe is severely overcrowded — in 2015, almost 200 people were crammed into one 60-person cell. Prisoners there, many of whom are Ethiopian migrants, share one toilet between 120 people and one tap to 900 people.

Source: The Guardian

ISRAEL: Neve Tirza is Israel's only women's prison. Most cells are 13 square meters including a toilet and shower. Each cell houses about six women, who often have to share sleeping spaces.

ISRAEL: Neve Tirza is Israel's only women's prison. Most cells are 13 square meters including a toilet and shower. Each cell houses about six women, who often have to share sleeping spaces.

Source: Refinery29

BANGLADESH: About 1,200 inmates live in Kashimpur Central Jail in Gazipur.

BANGLADESH: About 1,200 inmates live in Kashimpur Central Jail in Gazipur.

Source: Bangladesh Jail

RUSSIA: At the notorious Black Dolphin Prison on the Kazakhstan border, inmates share small 50-foot cells that are set back about 3 feet from the door — a 'cell within a cell.' Inmates are kept under 24-hour surveillance.

RUSSIA: At the notorious Black Dolphin Prison on the Kazakhstan border, inmates share small 50-foot cells that are set back about 3 feet from the door — a 'cell within a cell.' Inmates are kept under 24-hour surveillance.

Source: Business Insider

JAPAN: At Abashiri Prison in Japan, guards inspect inmates' rooms once a day. The prison houses inmates with sentences of eight years or less.

JAPAN: At Abashiri Prison in Japan, guards inspect inmates' rooms once a day. The prison houses inmates with sentences of eight years or less.

Source: Japan Visitor

IRAN: Evin Prison in Tehran has been accused of withholding food and medical care from prisoners.

IRAN: Evin Prison in Tehran has been accused of withholding food and medical care from prisoners.

Source: Sky News

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