Let’s face it, being sentenced to time behind bars is no joke. There is a grim picture in all of our heads when we think of the slammer. We think of a dark and damp atmosphere, a constant fear of safety and an overall misery of being confined to a tight space with sometimes no end in sight. Perhaps all of the prison shows we see on television paint that awful picture in our heads. With every Law & Order episode, the last place we all are reminded we don’t want to end up is in a yard gang war, an isolation room or even worse – the showers!
In all seriousness, prison is a place that is well deserved for people who have committed heinous crimes. It is no place for some girl scout to end up because she rang your doorbell one too many times. Proper punishment and rehabilitation must occur when one breaks the law and sometimes changes the lives of others drastically. Whether it is a ‘short’ 5 month stay or life with no parole, prison becomes the new home for these inmates. Every person reacts differently to living under constant watch and regulation, but there are many factors that go into making their stay more ‘enjoyable’ or better yet, manageable.
According to BBC News, there is roughly 9 million people incarcerated worldwide to date. With such a large population of people locked up, the areas of imprisonment have changed over time. Technology has advanced, morality has changed and voices have spoken. This has created a difference in the way prisoners are treated and spend their time behind bars. Whether you are Joe Blow or a powerful politician, justice does get served and sometimes it is with a silver spoon! Take a look at the following 10 humane prisons from around the world…
10. Halden Prison, Norway
The most unique aspect of this prison is the art. Over $1 million went into the look of this building. When you are confined to the same walls daily with no escape, you begin to be aware of your surroundings so intensely. Halden Prison knew this investment would help ease the prisoners psychologically. The cost of this psychological ease is seen in the specialized photography and unique paintings splattered all over the walls. Not only did art become a psychological investment, but the lighting inside as well. Halden Prison strives on mimicking the outside world as realistically possible, allowing for an easier transition for it’s inmates. In Norway, the maximum sentence for anything is 21 years, so most inmates do actually get released. As Halden does provide drawing classes and wood workshops, it emphasizes the importance of creativity and portrays this in it’s decor alongside its educational provisions. Perhaps upon release we may see the next Picasso.
9. San Pedro Prison, Bolivia
Behind these walls, you would think you have just entered a vibrant and flushing market with men, women and children bustling by. In La Paz, Bolivia, this prison has created an entire flourishing community for itself. Each prisoner must pay for his own cell, therefore creating a strive to make money. Each cell goes for a different price, the more luxurious cells range from $1000 to $1500 USD for the entire sentence. One must work to make money, therefore within these walls, establishments were created in order to employ those needing to pay. Within the community there are restaurants, salons and a hotel. This has created jobs such as hairdresser, repairmen and laundry attendants for the imprisoned. The concept of working for your stay allows for the prisoners to maintain a sense of hard work for a goal. As Sam Ewing once said, “Hard work spotlights the character of some people, some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.”
8. Otago Corrections Facility, New Zealand
This facility takes the cake when supplying the best future for its inmates. Otago has helped ready inmates for actual booming careers in the outside world as well as at home remedies for everyday well balancing. In terms of careers, Otaga has incorporated certification within their walls to allow inmates a chance at carpentry, engineering, dairy farming and cooking! Not only have they provided great trades for the inmates to carry on a ‘normal’ job but have introduced tomato farming as well. Over 30,000 tomato plants have been distributed thus far that were grown by inmates themselves.
Gardening has helped inmates feel a concept of contribution within society as well as practice patience as it takes several months to bloom fully. This time of solitude and reflection while gardening continues on after their release a lot of the time. Seems like the tomatoes were not the only thing growing…
7. Justice Center, Austria
Architect Josef Hohensing designed this spacious prison to house 205 inmates. This stunning layout was finalized in 2005, emitting nothing but respect. Justice Center houses non-violent crime inmates and is decked out in floor-to-ceiling windows. It is a piece of artwork, yet an establishment providing justice to those in need. Upon the walls a message: “All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.” This building provides a balcony for each inmate, as well as a private bathroom, kitchenette, television, basketball court and weight room.
It is easy to forget that inmates are humans after the damage has been done. Penalties should always been given, but to this glamorous extent, we might question “is this really jail?” Perhaps there is more respect for a non-violent crime versus a gruesome multiple murder, therefore allowing the ‘petty’ criminals to be housed in such a dignified manner.
6. Aranjuez Prison, Spain
This prison is all about family which is rare when being incarcerated. When cuffs are being slapped on, many people think they will never see their families again, this prison allows for that to never happen. It is rare within the judicial system that day to day time can be spent with your family while being locked up. Thirty-six cells are reserved for families with children up until the age that they are 3. Within the jail, rooms are decorated with disney characters, cribs installed and an outside playground built just for the children. There are doctor visits twice per week to ensure the health of all family members. As of 2015, there are 16 cells occupied out of the 36 and this prison remains child-oriented. Not only is there a supermarket and sewing classes available for the families including prisoner, there is character installations that remain for life. Having one’s family on premise allows for parenting skills to be developed.
5. Montgomery Federal Prison, Alabama
This prison holds amazing opportunity for inmates to overcome struggles they faced before, during and potentially after incarceration. Montgomery Federal Prison is on the grounds of the Air Force Base, USA allowing for most inmates to work within the base. Troy University has offered courses for the inmates at no extra cost in order to obtain their education. This is amazing considering the cost of education worldwide! Having inmates’ freedom taken away, they attain the ‘freedom’ of having no student loans! Within this educational system, Montgomery Prison provides certifications in being a paralegal, painter, cook as well as a dog trainer. What a bright look into the future! It also provides its inmates with attaining a commercial driving license.
Not only does this prison provide a future for its inmates, it realizes troubling problems from the get-go such as substance abuse. Substance abuse programs have been set up and are active behind these bars.
4. Pondok Bambu Prison, Indonesia
This women’s prison is a lot of what a girl can ask for depending on who you are! This Indonesian prison provides special treatment to those incarcerated depending on status. If you have the dough, you can get a good stay. An inmate providing enough financial appeal can gain them unlimited visitors, a double bed, a full time nanny and a private office decked out with leather chairs. There has been reportedly inmates allowed special treatment with karaoke machines, personally controlled air conditioners and fridges. These amenities make these prisoners feel super comfortable, but creates a public backlash questioning legal penalization. Among these amazing perks of going to jail, there have been reported events such as manicures and pedicures attained at the salon within the premises. Money rules the world, and in different countries there is an allowance to turn a blind eye in order to fill your pocket. A prison is yet another business despite the rights and wrongs ruled out officially.
3. Qincheng Prison, China
Orchards, fish ponds, fresh fruit, HDTV and beautiful mountains and hills – what more can you ask for! Unfortunately, we are not talking about your next summer getaway, this is jail, the hard stuff, the rough time. Right? Well, at least for the most prestigious government officials who have crossed their t’s and dotted their i’s! In comparison to the prison life the generic public has to endure, if you have the power, you have the luxury. China’s Qincheng allowed for a 20 square meter sized cell featuring writing desks, heated blankets in the winter time, sofas, washing machines. If you have the power and the bucks you can dine on sea-cucumber and shark fin soup. Your stay of course pertains to your life prior to this stern steel walls? Have you maintained a proper social status? Does your job allow you the luxury of China’s finest prison treatment? If so, your stay will be quite enjoyable compared to the general public who endures overcrowding, intense physical labor and regular guard beatings.
2. Oxford Federal Correctional Institution, Wisconsin
Oxford holds 1,000 inmates and is structured as a dorm setting. Sometimes it may seem as if it is a college campus and not just a penitentiary. This establishment provides a track field and a view of gorgeous lakes and every changing trees. Not only is it physically beautiful, Oxford provides education within the college level requirements. In exchange for this education, Oxford wishes for facility maintenance. Landscaping jobs within the prison provide prisoners with a 0.12 cent an hour pay. Though it is not much, it does allow prisoners for fulfillment of duty and good quality in the overlooking books.
Oxford allows for a certain release with the inmates, providing them with courses pertaining to stress reduction, nutrition and aerobics. When one hears of Oxford, all of the prestige fills our minds, but it is important to remember that another Oxford is implementing great programs and allowing fellow members of society to regain access to the general public in a rehabilitated way.
1. Butner Federal Correctional Institution, North Carolina
Butner Federal Correctional Institution is best known for its medical facilities. Housing 3,600 inmates, this prison provides cancer treatment programs, and specializes in oncology and behavioral science. Housing many sexual convicts, Butner has created a program to treat sexual offenders. This jail has housed many infamous people including Bernie Madoff. Madoff operated the largest financial fraud scheme in US history, with about $65 Billion dollars being questionable within US legislation. This criminal is definitely in the right spot as this jail provides excellent care for cancer, of which this criminal is reportedly suffering from.
For all of the scandals, robberies, laundering and murders that have happened, society has changed in terms of rehabilitating its inmates. These prisons enforce the law, but also acknowledge that there is a chance at a better life for the accused if warranted. Whether it is tomato planting, hairdressing or landscaping, these inmates prove that with the proper housing and treatment programs, one can recover and do great!