worst prisons in america

worst prisons in america

What are Some Worst Prisons in the United States?


The United States of America boasts of many accomplishments, but its prison system often comes under scrutiny due to widespread allegations of human rights abuses. With an extensive network of prisons, the country struggles to manage and operate them effectively. As of recent statistics, there are over 2.3 million incarcerated individuals in the U.S., with a significant number of them being Black African American citizens. Moreover, estimates suggest that over 81,622 prisoners are held in some form of solitary confinement.

The Impact of COVID-19 on American Prisons

The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the dire situation within American prisons. Over 2,700 inmates lost their lives in custody due to a lack of timely medical care, and the actual numbers might be even higher. Unfortunately, both state and federal authorities have not taken adequate action, leaving prisoners vulnerable to daily struggles, including gang violence, sexual assaults, lack of access to education and programs, and essential necessities.

The 11 Worst Prisons in the United States

1. The ADX

Also known as the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado, the ADX is the nation’s only federal supermax facility. Little is known about the harsh conditions inside this prison, but a lawsuit filed by 11 former ADX inmates revealed the inhumane treatment they endured. Housing notorious criminals like the Boston Marathon bomber and the Unabomber, the ADX keeps prisoners in 12 by 7-foot concrete cells, with minimal amenities and limited human contact.

See also  Menard Correctional Center

2. Ely State Prison, Nevada

Ely State Prison in Nevada is a maximum-security facility that includes death row inmates. Details about the prison’s solitary and death row chambers are scarce, but reports indicate a lack of regard for human life. Inmates are deprived of sunlight, educational programs, and meaningful activities, leading to deteriorating mental health.

3. San Quentin State Prison

Located in California’s Marin County, San Quentin State Prison houses one of the largest death row populations in the U.S. Non-death row inmates may fare relatively better, but the prison’s conditions severely impact death row inmates’ mental health. Overcrowded, with inmates confined to small cells, the prison becomes a breeding ground for mental illness and uncontrollable behavior.

4. Sing Sing Correctional Facility

Sing Sing maximum security prison in New York is known for housing the state’s worst criminals, including drug lords and senior gang members. Information about the prison’s conditions remained hidden until Ted Conover’s book “Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing” shed light on the frequent gang fights, sexual violence, decrepit infrastructure, and excessive use of force by guards.

5. Idaho Correctional Center

The Idaho Correctional Center in Kuna, Idaho, is the world’s largest privately-operated prison, managed by the Correctional Corporation of America. Gang violence thrives in this prison, with guards seemingly encouraging it instead of maintaining control. Inmates face constant struggles to survive in such a hostile environment.

6. Angola Prison

The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, Louisiana, is one of the largest maximum-security prisons in the U.S., housing up to 6,000 inmates across an 18,000-acre campus. This prison is notorious for housing an aging population, as prisoners sentenced to 40 years or more are sent here. The lack of proper maintenance and medical care creates deplorable living conditions that demand urgent attention.

See also  Federal Medical Center, Carswell

7. United States Penitentiary

Located in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, the United States Penitentiary is one of America’s most overcrowded supermax prisons. Numerous lawsuits have been filed by former prisoners alleging that they were deliberately locked with enemies for days in solitary confinement, leading to several deaths. Non-cooperative prisoners are subjected to being strapped to their bunks for hours.

8. Rikers Island

Rikers Island Prison, New York, is infamous for its overcrowding, housing over 12,000 inmates, including juveniles. The prison has faced multiple lawsuits related to killings, sexual violence, uncooperative guards, and deteriorating conditions.

9. Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility

Located in Leake County, Mississippi, this prison, operated by GEO Group, houses youth inmates as young as 13 years old. In the past, the prison faced serious issues, including frequent sexual assaults and inhumane treatment, such as prolonged solitary confinement. Cleanup efforts are ongoing, and the facility might be handed over to state prison authorities.

10. Julia Tutwiler Prison

This all-female prison in Alabama can house up to 400 inmates. In the 1980s, prisoners were segregated based on HIV status, with positive cases denied access to rehabilitation, education, and mental health treatment. Although some improvements have been made, former inmates still recount the horrors they endured during their time in this prison.

11. Holman Correctional Facility

Located in Atmore, Alabama, Holman Correctional Facility is known as a “slaughterhouse” due to its housing of death row inmates and the state’s only execution chamber. Severe overpopulation has created unsafe and cruel conditions. While plans were made to transfer inmates, the prison continues to exist with a reduced population.

See also  Maximum Security in Prison


The conditions in some of the worst prisons in the United States paint a bleak picture of the nation’s prison system. With issues ranging from overcrowding to inadequate medical care and inhumane treatment, it is evident that significant reforms are necessary to ensure the basic human rights of prisoners are respected.


  1. Which is the worst prison in the United States? The ADX (United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility) in Florence, Colorado, is considered one of the worst prisons due to its harsh conditions and confinement of dangerous criminals.
  2. How many prisoners are there in the U.S.? As of recent statistics, over 2.3 million people are incarcerated in American prisons.
  3. Are there any private prisons in the U.S.? Yes, the Idaho Correctional Center in Kuna, Idaho, is the world’s largest privately-operated prison.
  4. Which prison in California has the largest death row population? San Quentin State Prison in Marin County, California, houses one of the largest death row populations in the United States.
  5. What is the impact of COVID-19 on American prisons? The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the dire situation in American prisons, with thousands of inmates losing their lives due to a lack of timely medical care and safety measures.

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