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Locked Up (And Terrified) Abroad! The World's Most Dangerous & Inhumane Prisons

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Sep. 11 2012, Published 7:30 a.m. ET

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By Staff

Prison, by definition, is not a pleasant and fun place to be -- and let's face it, it's overrun with criminals and murderers.

But, where you have the misfortune to be locked up can drastically alter your experience, and likelihood of survival, behind bars. Hopefully you will NEVER have the misfortune of being locked up in any of these joints, as brings you a rundown of the world’s most terrifying and dangerous prisons, courtesy of

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Buckle up, hunker down and get ready to be scared straight!

10. Diyarbarkir Prison, Turkey

Diyarbarkir Prison, in south eastern Turkey, was built in 1980 to hold "enemies of the state," which was handy as there was a coup d'etat just shortly afterwards, guaranteeing a steady flow of prisoners. The jail was renown for its horrific torture practices, which included beating new arrivals before holding them down in a bath full of human excrement and setting the warden's German Shepherd dog, who was specially trained to bite men's genitals, on inmates. According to The Times, Diyarbarkir is among the "ten most notorious jails in the world" living up to its title with the death of 34 prisoners between 1981 and 1984.

9. Black Beach, Equatorial Guinea

In a land that isn't renown for its human rights record, Black Beach still manages to stand out for its rancid and inhumane conditions. Guards routinely torture and beat prisoners and reportedly even arrange gladiatorial battles where prisoners fight to their death. If that's not horrifying enough, bear in mind the prison, which is set on Bioko Island, away from the main coast, is named for the flow of human excrement that swirls all around. In addition, prisoners are often withheld medical treatment and food rations are said to be "meagre."

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8. Gitarama City Jail, Rwanda

Overcrowding is a subject that is oft discussed when it comes to conditions in America's own packed prisons, but none of those even comes close to Gitarama City jail, which was built to hold 400 but currently has around 7,000 inmates. Located in Rwanda's second largest city, it's estimated that thousands of prisoners die from suffocation and starvation each year, and it's been reported that inmates have even turned to cannibalism to satisfy their raging hunger.

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7. Tadmor Prison, Syria

In a country that is currently unable to protect its innocent citizens from being gunned down and slaughtered in the streets, it is not surprising Syria's prisoners frequently suffer the same fate. Tadmor is located in the deserts of eastern Syria and was originally built as a military base. It is known for its horrific human rights abuses, harsh conditions, summery executions and torture. The facility also holds the dubious accolade of being the site of one of the "worst prison massacre of all time." In 1980, the army stormed the prison and began systematically entering cells and murdering an estimated 1,000 prisoners in retaliation for a failed assassination by the Muslim Brotherhood against President Hafez al-Assad. The prison was closed in 2001, but re-opened in June, 2011 and currently holds prisoners accused of participating in anti-regime demonstrations.

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6. Carandiru Penitentiary, Brazil

Carandiru Penitentiary, built in 1920, is located in Brazil's largest city of Sao Paulo and at its peak was South America's largest jail facility, holding over 8,000 prisoners. In a country rampant with violent crime, it comes as no shock that the prison, which closed in 2002 and now operates as a museum, was known for it's brutal conditions. In 1992 it was the site of the Carandiru massacre where more than 100 inmates were shot dead by armed police responding to a riot. During its time the prison was the go to dumping spot for Brazil's drug lords and was notorious for its horrific living conditions, lack of medical care and substandard food. It is estimated that one in five prisoners suffered from AIDS.

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5. Bang Kwang Prison, Thailand

Bang Kwang is a men's prison, located about seven miles from Thailand's capital city, Bangkok. Nicknamed "The Bangkok Hilton" the facility holds a high amount of foreign nationals, many convicted of drug smuggling crimes. All prisoners have been awarded long sentences, none shorter than 25 years , and the jail is renown for its harsh conditions and meagre food rations of just one small bowl of watery flavorless soup and white rice per prisoner per day. All inmates are forced to wear leg irons for the first few months of their sentence, and those who have been sentenced to death have their leg irons permanently welded on.

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4. La Sante Penitentiary, France

When you think of Paris you tend to think of fine wines, romantic strolls along the Seine and gastronomic food, but the reality of life in La Sante couldn't be any further from that dream. Located in the capital city's 14th arrondissement, the facility reportedly has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and it's hardly surprising given the harsh conditions, overwhelming filth, huge population of vermin and rampant illness suffered by prisoners. In 2000 the head doctor of the prison, Veronique Vasseur released a book detailing the horrifying and inhumane conditions inside the facility, spurring an evaluation by parliament.

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3. Petak Island Prison, Russia

Known as Russia's Alcatraz, Petak Island Prison is set in the middle of nowhere on an outcropping of rock in Russia's immense White Lake. Even by Russia's harsh gulag standards, Petak is renown for its brutality and inhumane conditions. Prisoners are kept two to a tiny cell for 22-and-a-half hours a day. Once a day, inmates are transferred to a tiny wire cage outside for an hour-and-a-half and the facility's unbending and inhumane regime is known to crush even the toughest inmate's spirit. Prisoners are permitted just two visits a year for two hours duration, but given the remote location of the jail many families are unable to make the trek. Half the prisoners have tuberculosis and many are, not surprisingly, clinically insane. The facility has no mod cons, including no heating, no bathrooms (prisoners are given a metal bucket instead), and absolutely no luxuries such as libraries or televisions.

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2. La Sabaneta, Venezuela

La Sabaneta tops the list of Venezuela's most violent, brutal prisons, in a country known for its inhumane jail conditions. Approximately 25,000 prisoners are housed in the facility which was originally designed to hold 15,000 and with one guard allocated to every 150 inmates not surprisingly violence and mayhem run supreme. In one year alone 196 prisoners were killed and 624 wounded as a result of the gun and knife violence within the facility. Prisoners are allowed to carry weapons and as a result terrifying gun battles are frequent — in January 1994, 108 prisoners were wiped out in one frenzied incident. And, if the violence doesn't get you, the insufficient food, lack of medical care and rampant disease likely will -- point in case -- one cholera outbreak killed a whopping 700 prisoners in one fail swoop.

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1. Camp 22, North Korea

Camp 22, also called Hoeryong Concentration Camp, is the grand daddy of inhumane hellholes, masquerading as a penal labor colony. Located in northeast North Korea, near the border of Russia and China, Camp 22, which is used to house political prisoners and dissenters, along with three generations of their families, in lifelong detention, is completely isolated from the outside world and so secretive that the North Korean government denies its very existence, despite its estimated 50,000 inmates. Horrifying tales of human rights abuses have emerged from within its walls including reports of medical experiments being carried out on unwitting prisoners; inmates with serious deformities due to torture; daily beatings; public executions; rape and death by starvation. One former prison guard, Ahn Myong-chol, defected from North Korea and went on to describe the conditions in the camp -- recalling the horror and shock he experienced upon first arriving at the camp, and likening the inmates to walking skeletons, dwarfs, and cripples in rag.




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