When you think of prisons, you likely visualize a place where the inmates struggle to get food and water and live in constant fear of their safety. That’s how being “locked up” is often portrayed in the movies, but the truth is, there are some prisons that are actually really nice.
Some would argue that giving inmates such plush living conditions may serve as indirect motivation for them to commit more crimes upon their release. After all, a “nice” prison with amenities that some inmates wouldn’t get in their own homes isn’t the worst punishment in the world. Then again, a posh prison could also be seen as a humane way to imprison people. Some inmates still realize they are incarcerated, even when they’re watching a flat screen TV or eating a gourmet meal. Their time in prison could help them to realize that they can attain some of these amenities (the legal way, of course) upon their release from jail. When prisoners are in clean and high-quality conditions, it can also lower the rate of prison violence. After all, not many people are in the mood to argue after a good night’s sleep on a well-made mattress. Here are 12 prisons that are nicer than your apartment.
12. Federal Correctional Institution, Sheridan
This prison is located in Oregon, and is often counted as one of the “best” places to be incarcerated. There are plenty of activities for the inmates to participate in, including organized sports like soccer, football and volleyball. Those who come to visit the inmates can also enjoy comfortable amenities, and there are several training programs for the inmates as well. Giving inmates life skills that can be used upon their release from prison could decrease the chances that they’ll get arrested again. That’s why this Sheridan prison offers courses in landscape design, construction and personal fitness training for inmates to choose from.
11. Federal Correctional Institution and Prison Camp, Otisville
This New York facility is “ideal” for Jewish inmates in particular, but has been deemed one of the nicer prisons in the country in general as well. The prison offers religious furloughs, and there’s even a rabbi who works time at this medium-security prison. During many of the Jewish holidays, special food is also offered to the inmates. Perhaps honoring the religious customers of the majority of the inmates makes them feel valued and respected, and lowers their chances of committing crimes again upon their release. Huffington Post even stated that the Otisville facility could easily be mistaken for a college, due to the way the inmates are treated and the importance of education there.
10. Eastern State Penitentiary
This facility is perhaps most famous for the fact that Al Capone did time there. Capone stayed in a section of the prison known as “Park Avenue.” There was a cabinet radio in his room, and the space was decorated with Oriental rugs. Capone’s “cell” also featured quality furniture pieces, as well as a skylight. Sure, most people would still prefer to have their freedom, but if you’ve got to be in jail for a while, this sounds somewhat bearable. Capone’s prison cell would easily go for over $1,000 a month in rent in New York these days. This speaks to how nice it was—and to how high the rent is in the city.
9. Wormwood Scrubs
The London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham is where this men’s prison is located. The cells in some parts of the prison actually look like apartments. There are actually front doors, walls made of exposed brick, and room for the inmates to have furniture. There’s even a built-in shelf or two in the cells. The Victorian architecture of the prison also makes it eye-catching from the outside. There are also several amenities at Wormwood Scrubs that can help prisoners to heal physically and mentally before their release. A healthcare center is on site, as well as a drug detox facility.
8. Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin
This California prison for women is located at the Camp Parks Army Reserve Training Area Military Base. Even though the facility opened in 1974, it didn’t become an all-female prison until 2012, and is one of only three federal prisons for women in the U.S. “Famous” people who spent time in the prison include Heidi Fleiss. The facility offers parenting classes for inmates, and gives them the opportunity to earn their GED while serving time. This prison has also been referred to as Club Fed, because of its amenities. Thick mattresses, separate bathroom facilities, and the variety of apprenticeships offered (including baking and carpentry) can certainly help inmates to have the skills they need to live productive lives after their sentences.
7. Orange County Jail, Santa Ana
Although some would argue that the living conditions at the women’s prison in Orange County aren’t as nice as they once were, there was a time when having a “room” at the facility wasn’t the worst thing ever. Silent film actor Bebe Daniels was once arrested and taken to the jail for speeding. Daniels spent nine days “locked up,” and during that time, she was able to get flowers from loved ones. Local businesses also donated furniture to make her cell easier to live in. Daniels even got to enjoy gourmet meals while in prison, and an orchestra was right outside her window to serenade her. Sounds more like a stay at a fancy hotel than a prison sentence.
6. Federal Correctional Institution, Sandstone
This low-security men’s prison in Minnesota is known for giving inmates lots to do. There’s a crafting station, where prisoners can learn to make things from leather. A station for painting or creating stained glass is provided as well. Inmates can also enjoy a game of pool, or participate in intramural sports. The Sandstone facility also respects the religious preferences of the inmates. There are services for Muslims, as well as Jewish, Catholic and Native American religions. This is also the prison where Tim Allen served time in the early 1980s for drug trafficking. Seems like the facility has always been at least somewhat nice, since Allen didn’t seem to be too traumatized upon his release, and went on to enjoy a successful career.
5. Federal Correctional Institution, Taft
This low-level security prison is deemed one of the “best” for children to visit, since the environment is considerably safe. According to TalkLeft, the Taft facilities also have some of the cleanest bathrooms, which is pretty rare for a prison (or lots of public places, these days). The prison is privately run, which may have a lot to do with its top-notch conditions. There are a little over 1,700 inmates at the prison, and the staff is so confident that they provide comfortable conditions for the prisoners that they encourage them to write reviews. Issues like programs and activities, living conditions, and commissary are part of the review, which further indicates that Taft may not be the worst place to do time.
4. Federal Prison Camp, Pensacola
The inmates who reside at the Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola have the option to work outside of the camp, since the facility is on a military base. The prison is at Pensacola Naval Air Station, and when the inmates are not participating in an apprenticeship or keeping the grounds clean, they may be engaging in intramural sports. There’s also a movie night at the Pensacola prison, which may serve as an effective tactic for the prisoners to get their mind off of things. This prison even has the facilities for prisoners to play bocce ball. We’ve got to admit, that’s pretty impressive.
3. Federal Prison Camp, Yankton
The Yankton Federal Prison Camp is in South Dakota. The prison stands out in that it requires its inmates to help out in the community. The prisoners are often laboring with Habitat for Humanity, as well as other local nonprofit organizations. At the actual facility, there are a number of sports for the inmates to play. The option of taking an art class is also available. Yankton also has a music room, where a number of inmates learn how to play an instrument. The prison also has an extensive library, encouraging inmates to read classic books and gain new information before their release.
2. Federal Prison Camp, Montgomery
This facility is located on Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. Prisoners have the option of being landscapers and gardeners during their sentences, and are responsible for keeping the grounds looking their best. Apparently, the cells at the prison aren’t too terrible to sleep in, and we haven’t heard any major complaints about the food, so we’re guessing that’s decent, too. Prisoners also have the opportunity to take college courses at the nearby Troy University. The correspondence courses give prisoners the training to pursue careers in foreign language, art, music, psychology or business.
1. Federal Prison Camp, Alderson
This facility in West Virginia is a minimum-security prison for women. This is the facility where Martha Stewart and Teresa Giudice did time, and she referred to the prison as “Yale.” Stewart has a pretty good idea of what fancy living conditions are, which is an indication that this place is pretty nice. The inmates can participate in game and talent shows, or take a swim in the on-site pool. The inmates can also play basketball, volleyball or roller skate, which makes it easy to stay in shape. The outside grounds look similar to a country club, but the actual cells are somewhat small. Inmates say that there are no doors, just open space, so you don’t have any privacy. After all, amid the seemingly appealing amenities, there has to be some reminder that that women there are actually imprisoned.