10. Louisiana State Penitentiary – USA
Formerly known as the Angola prison, this is the largest maximum-security prison in the United States. It houses more than five thousand prisoners. The prison has a large farm where inmates are required to work long hours. They even participate in rodeos. However, various reports of human rights violations and abuse have emerged from there. A couple of prisoners were put in solitary confinement for 40 years, having been accused of killing a guard.
9. Alcatraz Penitentiary – San Francisco, USA
Often referred to by its inmates as ‘Hellcatraz’. The Alcatraz prison is one of the most infamous prisons in history. Opened in 1934, its inmates once included gangsters like Al Capone, George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly and Mickey Cohen. The prison is located at Alcatraz island off the coast of San Francisco. It gained notoriety for the living conditions, mental torture and clashes between inmates. The prison was closed in 1963. It is now preserved as a museum.
8. Tadmor Prison – Syria
This Syrian prison was regarded to be one of the most oppressive places on Earth. Various kinds of tortures have been inflicted upon the inmates ever since its opening. In June 1980, the prison witnessed one of the worst prison massacres ever, when the President Hafez al-Assad ordered a ‘clean up’ in retaliation for an assassination attempt on him. More than a thousand were reported to have lost their lives. Even though it was closed after the death of al-Hassad, it was reopened in 2011. In May 2015, it was demolished by militants of Islamic State.
7. Guantanamo Bay Prison – USA
Guantanamo is a port lying at the south-west tip of Cuba. The area is, however, controlled by USA. The prison here shot to infamy when the alleged terrorists from Afghanistan and Iraq were brought here, by the order of erstwhile US President George W Bush, allowing the army to imprison any person with terrorism links for an unlimited period of time. In 2003, there were around a thousand prisoners here. Till 2006, the information about the inmates was kept secret. Harsh treatments were reported, and due to international pressure, many prisoners were let off or handed over to their home countries.
6. Maracaibo Prison – Venezuela
Virtually ruled by underworld gangs rather than government, the Maracaibo Prison in Venezuela was opened in 1958. It was the venue of the bloodiest prison massacre in the country in 1994. More than a hundred were killed during a clash between rival gangs. Ethnic and racial tensions run high here, prompting clashes on regular basis. The corruptive system further aggravates matters.