Prisons have remained a prominent aspect of our culture and society for hundreds of years. From the archaic dungeons and debtors prisons, to the over-crowded maximum security penitentiaries and encampments for prisoners of war; prisons have always been a heavily relied on method of removing criminals from society.
The origins of the prison can be traced back to the first known legal code, known as the Code of Hammurabi. Written in Babylon around 1750BC, the laws covered many of the day-to-day aspects of living, such as: military service, religion, theft and trade.
The death penalty, also known as Capital Punishment, is a sentence handed out by the state as a punishment for a crime. This sentence can be traced back though out history, into the depths of our ancestors, and has been dealt out for a myriad of reasons, from treason to murder. Currently, roughly 58 nations still practice Capital Punishment, although only three of these execute people considered minors (under 18.)
During the 1980s, security breeches were occurring in Federal Prisons across the US, including in the USP Marion. In 1983, two prison officers were stabbed to death in separate incidents, causing the facility to enter a permanent lock down. The prison was quickly transformed into a control unit, with 22-23 hours per day solitary confinement for all inmates. It remained this way for the next 23 years.
Located in San Francisco, California, Alcatraz prison is one of the world’s most notorious prisons. Built upon a rugged island terrain and surrounded by freezing water, it was deemed to be an ideal location for high security prison for the country’s most dangerous criminals. It quickly gained a darkened reputation of brutality and inhumane living conditions, and was eventually forced to shut down due to severe structural faults.
Carandiru Penitentiary, also known as Casa de Detencao, was a penal facility situated in São Paulo, Brazil. It was designed and built by Samuel das Neves in 1920 and at the time, it was considered to be the ‘ideal’ prison in Brazil, meeting the new demands of the 1890 Brazilian criminal code perfectly.
Diyarbakır Prison is a prison located in Diyarbakır, south-east Turkey. Although it was originally built in 1980 as an E-type prison by the Ministry of Justice, the prison was swiftly handed over to the military after the 1980 Turkish Coup d’etat. After the transfer took place, the facility became a Martial Law Military Prison, and remained that way until it was given back to the Ministry of Justice in 1988.
Venezuelan prisons are notorious for their brutality and poor living conditions. Disease outbreaks are a frequent occurrence due to overcrowding and poor hygiene, and many prisoners fall victim to the corruption of the system.
Operated by the Ministry of Justice, La Sante is situated in the Montpamasse district of the 14th Arrondissement in Paris, France. It was designed by the architect Joseph Auguste Emile Vaudremer, and officially opened in August 1867 as a replacement for the Madelonnettes Convent in the 3rd Arrondissement.
HM Prison Pentonville is a category B/C male prison located in the London Borough of Islington. The facility was opened in 1842 and is currently operated by Her Majesty’s Prison Service, with a capacity of 1310 prisoners.
Rikers Island is a jail, located in New York city, sitting in the East River between Queens and the mainland Bronx. Unlike a prison, it is not designed to hold inmates for the duration of their sentences, but simply to detain them whilst awaiting trial. The inmates of Rikers Island are not yet convicts, and are sent there when they can not afford their bail fees, or when they are refused bail.
San Quentin State Prison opened in 1852, and is California’s oldest running state prison. Located in San Quentin, Marion County, California, the prison is for males only, and holds the only death row block in the state. This infamous prison has held some of society’s cruellest men, from Richard Ramirez to Rodney Alcala and has featued in many music videos, films and documentaries.
Tadmor Prison was situated in the deserts of eastern Syria, roughly 200 kilometres north-east of Damascus. The facility was initially built by the French Mandate forces after World War One to be used as military barracks, but when it was handed over to the Syrian Government, it quickly became known as Tadmor Prison.
Four months after the Khmer Rouge won the Cambodian Civil War in 1975, they converted the Chao Ponhea Yat High School in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, into a prison and interrogation centre named Security Prison 21 (S-21), which is also known as Tuol Sleng. School rooms were transformed into cells and torture chambers, with iron bars and razor wire covering the windows to prevent escape.