10 worst prisons in europe

10 Worst Prisons in Europe


Prisons are places where criminals are held, and they are designed to be unpleasant. However, some prisons have gained a reputation for being the absolute worst. In this article, we will take you on a journey to explore the ten worst prisons in Europe, known for their harsh conditions, human rights abuses, and infamous inmates. Let’s dive in and find out what makes these institutions so infamous.

1. HMP Belmarsh, United Kingdom

Infamous Inmates

HMP Belmarsh is a high-security prison located in London, and it is often referred to as the “British Guantanamo” due to the presence of high-profile inmates, including terrorists and dangerous criminals. This prison has housed several notorious prisoners such as Julian Assange, Ian Huntley, and Abu Hamza al-Masri.

Harsh Conditions

Besides housing infamous criminals, HMP Belmarsh is known for its strict security measures and harsh living conditions. Inmates are subject to long periods of solitary confinement, limited access to medical care, and minimal human interaction, which can lead to severe psychological distress.

2. La Santé Prison, France

Notorious Reputation

Located in the heart of Paris, La Santé Prison is one of the most notorious prisons in Europe. It has been home to some of France’s most dangerous criminals, including political terrorists and serial killers. Famous inmates such as Carlos the Jackal and Michel Fourniret have spent time in its cells

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Violent History

La Santé Prison has a long history of violence, with numerous reports of inmate-on-inmate attacks, as well as suicides. The prison’s living conditions are appalling, with overcrowding and unsanitary facilities contributing to the overall brutality experienced by the inmates.

3. Silivri Prison, Turkey

Overcrowding and Human Rights Abuses

Silivri Prison, located near Istanbul, is Turkey’s largest prison and is notorious for its overcrowding and human rights abuses. The prison has been criticized for its lack of medical care, insufficient food, and the excessive use of solitary confinement.

Political Prisoners

In recent years, Silivri Prison has gained notoriety for holding a significant number of political prisoners, including journalists, academics, and activists, many of whom have been detained without trial or due process.

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4. Patarei Sea Fortress and Prison, Estonia

Haunting Past

The Patarei Sea Fortress and Prison in Tallinn, Estonia, is a grim reminder of the country’s dark past under Soviet rule. Built as a sea fortress in the 19th century, Patarei was later converted into a prison, where thousands of people were held, tortured, and executed during the Soviet era.

Dark Tourism Destination

Although the prison closed in 2002, it has since become a popular “dark tourism” destination. Visitors can take guided tours through the eerie corridors, where they can learn about the prison’s brutal history and get a glimpse of the inhumane conditions faced by the inmates.

5. Evin Prison, Iran

Brutal Treatment of Political Prisoners

Evin Prison, located in Tehran, Iran, is infamous for its harsh treatment of political prisoners. Many Iranian dissidents, journalists, and activists have been incarcerated in this prison, where they have faced torture, solitary confinement, and even execution.

Torture and Executions

Evin Prison has been widely criticized for its human rights abuses, including the use of torture and the execution of prisoners. The prison has also been accused of subjecting inmates to mock executions and other forms of psychological torture.

6. Alcatraz Prison, United States

Infamous Inmates and Escapes

Although not located in Europe, Alcatraz Prison is worth mentioning due to its worldwide infamy. Situated on an island in San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz was once home to some of America’s most notorious criminals, including Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. The prison is also known for the daring escape attempts made by its inmates.

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Maximum Security

Alcatraz was designed to be a maximum-security prison, with state-of-the-art security measures and a reputation for being inescapable. However, the prison was eventually closed in 1963 due to high operational costs and concerns about the living conditions of the inmates.

7. Sabaneta Prison, Venezuela

Extreme Violence

Sabaneta Prison in Maracaibo, Venezuela, is infamous for its extreme violence and lawlessness. The prison is severely overcrowded, with inmates often sleeping on the floor or in makeshift hammocks. This overcrowding has led to numerous riots and brutal incidents of inmate-on-inmate violence.

Gang Control

In Sabaneta Prison, powerful gangs control many aspects of daily life, and inmates are often left to fend for themselves. Corruption is rampant, and guards have been known to turn a blind eye to the violence and chaos within the prison walls.

8. Gitarama Central Prison, Rwanda

Inhumane Conditions

Gitarama Central Prison, located in Rwanda, is known for its appalling conditions and severe overcrowding. Originally designed to hold 400 inmates, the prison has been known to house over 7,000 prisoners at one time. The overcrowding has led to a lack of sanitation, with inmates forced to live in filthy conditions and suffer from a lack of food, water, and medical care.


The overcrowding in Gitarama Central Prison is a result of Rwanda’s turbulent history and the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. Thousands of people were imprisoned on suspicion of participating in the genocide, leading to an overwhelming number of inmates in the country’s prison system.

9. Black Dolphin Prison, Russia

Russia’s Most Secure Prison

Black Dolphin Prison, located in the remote region of Siberia, is Russia’s most secure prison and is home to some of the country’s most dangerous criminals, including serial killers, terrorists, and pedophiles. The prison is known for its strict security measures, which include continuous surveillance and the use of restraints on inmates at all times.

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Extreme Isolation

Inmates at Black Dolphin Prison are subjected to extreme isolation and sensory deprivation, with limited contact with other prisoners and the outside world. This intense form of isolation can lead to severe psychological distress and has been criticized as a form of cruel and inhumane punishment.

10. Camp 22, North Korea

Forced Labor and Torture

Camp 22, also known as Hoeryong Concentration Camp, is a notorious prison in North Korea where inmates are subjected to forced labor, torture, and inhumane living conditions. Although not technically located in Europe, Camp 22’s infamy warrants its inclusion on this list. Political prisoners, their families, and those accused of crimes against the state are sent to this secretive and brutal prison.

Prisoner Disappearances

Little is known about the true extent of the atrocities committed within Camp 22, as the North Korean government tightly controls information about the prison. However, defectors have reported instances of torture, forced labor, and the disappearance of thousands of inmates.


These ten prisons represent some of the worst in Europe and beyond, with a history of human rights abuses, violence, and inhumane living conditions. While prisons are meant to serve as a deterrent and place for rehabilitation, the institutions on this list have become synonymous with pain, suffering, and despair.


  1. Why are some prisons on this list not located in Europe?

Although the focus is on European prisons, some prisons outside Europe are included due to their global infamy and the severity of their conditions, which warrant discussion and attention.

  1. What can be done to improve prison conditions?

Addressing issues such as overcrowding, corruption, and lack of resources is crucial to improving prison conditions. Additionally, a focus on rehabilitation and education can help create more humane and effective prison systems.

  1. What role does politics play in the conditions of these prisons?

In some cases, prisons become sites of political repression, where governments use incarceration to silence dissenting voices or punish perceived enemies. This can lead to human rights abuses and harsh conditions within the prisons.

  1. Are there any international organizations working to improve prison conditions?

Several international organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, work to expose human rights abuses in prisons and advocate for improved conditions.

  1. What are the psychological effects of long-term incarceration in these prisons?

Long-term incarceration in such harsh environments can lead to severe psychological distress, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The isolation and abuse faced by inmates can have lasting effects on their mental health.

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