10 Prisons That Are Nicer Than Your House

10 Prisons That Are Nicer Than Your House 10 HMP Parc, Wales Renowned for its range of sporting facilities, HMP Parc in the UK offers its inmates access to a sports hall, tennis court, gym and even a climbing wall, because how could teaching prisoners to climb walls have any drawbacks? The prison also boasts two top of the range, all weather 3G football pitches, where managers from the nearby professional football club Cardiff City regularly come to train with the prisoners

Then after training, inmates can relax in front of the TV, which includes a subscription to cable channels, like Sky Sports 1 If you’re wondering why Britain’s delinquents get free cable when you can barely pay the gas bill, you’ll be happy to hear that the prisoners weren’t happy with it either That’s why in 2011, the inmates threatened the prison with legal action, demanding that they should also be allowed access to Sky Sports 2 and 3, with some even claiming that their human rights were being breached Ultimately though, the threats weren’t followed up, and the convicted criminals were left with only one cable sports channel to watch 9

Taft Correctional Institution, USA Most notable for being the prison that housed ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Jordan Belfort, Taft Correctional Institution has a reputation for being a ‘boys club’ where rich criminals can stay out their sentence in peace Nicknamed ‘Camp Cupcake’ by one inmate, the section of the prison where Belfort was incarcerated holds white collar criminals or ‘campers’, and has been described as being more comfortable than a Manhattan Hotel In his latest book, Belfort boasts that for a monthly cost of less than $1000, he had access to a cook, a butler, a maid, a masseuse and someone to do whichever chore his counselor assigned him, leaving his schedule clear for 3 hours of tennis a day The rest of his days in prison, Belfort claims were dedicated to writing his first book, detailing all the crimes which landed him there As we know, the book would later be optioned by Martin Scorsese, and meant that Belfort had to spend ‘hundreds of hours’ with Leonardo DiCaprio as he researched the role, proving right the age old saying ‘Crime doesn’t pay, unless the story would make a good film, then you’re made for life

’ 8 Halden Prison, Norway You know the scene A harmonica rings out through a lonely prison, then the guitar and bass kick in, followed by the drums and finally the singing If that doesn’t sound quite right it’s because this isn’t a normal prison, it’s Halden prison in Norway And you’re in their on-site recording studio

Built at a cost of $252 million, Halden has a population of up to 252, half of which are convicted rapists, murderers or child molesters But despite the severity of their crimes, Halden’s governor insists that prison should be about rehabilitation rather than punishment Inmates are able to take music lessons, get creative in the crafts room, exercise in the sports center or admire the artwork that was commissioned with the prison designer’s modest $1-million-dollar art budget If this wasn’t enough to get them out of their cells, inmates are offered 53 kroner (around $7) a day to get out and be productive, which sounds unnecessary until you find out that cells are all en suite, and come complete with a mini-fridge and flat screen TV, so you couldn’t be blamed for wanting to stay in 7

Bastoy Island, Norway But anyone can make a luxury prison with a fortune to spend, but what does one of Norway’s cheapest prisons look like? Well if you guessed ‘island paradise in the sun’, then well done! You’re either an incredible guesser or you’ve been to Norwegian prison before and either way, it’s a win Established for prisoners in the final years of their incarceration, the prison island of Bastoy lets inmates stay in wooden cottages and work on the prison farm, creating an almost completely self-sustaining community But when they’re not on the farm, convicts can unwind by sunbathing, horse riding, skiing and you’d have to assume probably also drinking martinis and driving invisible cars With 69 employees guarding the 115 inmates, and only 5 staying overnight on the island, Bastoy is a relaxed environment for its inhabitants, and some have even gone as far as to describe it as a ‘holiday camp’, but with a reoffending rate of 16% compared to the European average of 70, it’s clear they’re doing something right 6

HMP Wandsworth, UK The history of HMP Wandsworth is littered with executions, inmate mistreatment, and the recurring presence of Britain’s most violent prisoner Charles Bronson, who was moved from the prison after trying to poison a fellow inmate and promptly moved back after he threatened to kill one of the guards at his new prison So perhaps it’s not the first place to spring to mind when talking about luxury prisons, but in recent years, Wandsworth has undergone a significant rebranding It’s this same belief in second chances that Wandsworth now applies to its occupants The prison now focuses heavily on rehabilitation through education, offering a wide range of courses for inmates ranging from Math and English to Creative Writing and Yoga, a multi-faith chapel suitable for any of 10 religions and impressive sporting facilities including two gyms and a running track The most notable improvement, however, is the multi-award winning ‘Radio Wanno’, a radio station run by inmates at the prison

The program, which is researched and presented by Wandsworth inmates, is intended to encourage prisoners back into mainstream education in an exciting new way, and help the 50% of UK convicts whose reading age is at or below 11 years 5 Jakarta Pondok Bambu Women’s Penitentiary, Indonesia In the Indonesian prison system, which is rife with corruption, it’s considered a ‘public secret’ that the rich and powerful can live like kings and queens behind bars Inmates with means can pay for better rooms with king sized beds and flat screen TVs, practically unlimited visitation rights for family and friends and in the case of one former president’s son, regular use of the building’s helicopter landing pad to come and go as he pleased One such woman was Artalyta Suryani, imprisoned at the Jakarta Pondok Bambu Women’s Penitentiary

Suryani had ironically been jailed for offering a $600,000 bribe to a prosecutor, but decided that ‘if at first you don’t succeed, bribe and bribe again’, paying her way to a luxury room with a private bathroom and ‘adjoining karaoke suite’, because honestly, what else would you get? She even had her own maids, and was allowed unlimited visits from beauticians Since this information was released, however, Suryani has been moved to a three-person cell, which must have been almost as much of a downgrade as the two prisoners who suddenly found themselves in the unbearable situation of sharing a room with a karaoke enthusiast 4 Suomenlinna Island, Finland The Finnish Island of Suomenlinna is home to one of the country’s famed ‘open prisons’, which resembles a nice youth hostel more than most prisons Although that said, we’ve all seen youth hostels that are worse than most prisons

The 95 inmates stay in wooden huts, each with a communal kitchen, a giant flat screen TV and a sauna Outside you’ll find a barbeque shelter near a pond, and the whole picturesque island for prisoners to explore The intention of the island is to give the convicts a sense of community and self-reliance, making their return to normal society as smooth as possible, although I’m not sure which ‘normal society’ includes daily sauna trips, but just tell me where to sign Further to the freedom they enjoy on the island, its inhabitants are also able to leave regularly, with many even having construction jobs on the island, allowing them to contribute to their living costs and making this and other open prisons generally cheaper to run The reoffending rate in open prisons is also down to around 20% from Finland’s already impressively low average of 35%, despite the fact most people I know would happily break the law for an all-expenses paid island getaway

3 Fortezza Medicea, Italy If I told you that you could have your meal cooked by a convicted murderer, you’d probably expect to be served something that used to be human with some fava beans and a nice chianti But in Volterra, Italy, tables are fully booked weeks in advance to eat at the Fortezza Medicea restaurant, which operates out of a high-security prison, and is staffed entirely by inmates Once they’ve been thoroughly searched and had their bags confiscated, diners sit at candlelit tables in a 14th Century Castle, before tucking into to gourmet meals for around $40 a head Despite the high security and the plastic cutlery – for obvious reasons – customers and critics have praised both the food and the atmosphere, giving special mention to the house pianist, currently serving a life sentence for homicide

Since 2006, the program has been praised for the rehabilitation it offers the convicts, teaching them important skills and offering them trust and responsibility, all while raising money for charity It’s also the only entry on this list you can enjoy without having to break the law 2 Aranjuez Penitentiary, Spain As a kid, if you didn’t have posters of your favorite cartoon characters in your bedroom, you probably thought you had the worst parents in the world But in Aranjuez, Spain, having Mickey and Donald on the wall might mean just that

That’s because the Aranjuez Penitentiary offers the world’s only family cells, where children of murderers, robbers and drug traffickers are able to live in the prison with their incarcerated parents Until the age of three, children stay with their parents in what have been dubbed ‘five star cells’, complete with child friendly decorations, a crib and a selection of toys From there, they head out to the on-site nursery, then spend the rest of the day playing with the children of other convicts in the prison playground While neither the parents nor the prison see it as an ideal situation for the child’s upbringing, it’s been deemed that parent-child bonding is the most important thing in the years before the children are old enough to fully understand their parents’ incarceration Once they turn three, children are released to relatives or into social care, and their parents are returned to regular cells, which Aranjuez staff have reported sends some women into a mad rush to get pregnant again, buying themselves another three years in the luxury accommodation

1 San Antonio Prison, Venezuela With almost half of US prisoners having been convicted for drug related crimes, it’s well known that buying drugs can end you up in prison But if you find yourself on Margarita Island in Venezuela, the locals will all tell you the reverse: if go to prison, you can buy drugs More specifically, if you go to the ‘party prison’ of San Antonio, where the inmates run the show, and they can do pretty much anything but leave Visitors, who are searched only on the way into the prison, travel to San Antonio for a drug fueled weekend of bikini clad pool parties, barbeques and betting on cockfights

Prisoners, most of whom are charged with drug trafficking, enjoy air conditioned rooms with satellite TV, live music performances, prolonged conjugal visits and some even walk the grounds with assault rifles And with access to phones and laptops, inmates can do more to keep their business running than just selling drugs, with numerous reports of prisoners arranging abductions and murders on the outside But with so many ex-convicts struggling to find employment after coming out of prison, it’s nice to see that Venezuelan drug lords aren’t losing too much business So, that was 10 Prisons that are nicer than your house Were there any you'd leave a life of freedom for? Did we leave any luxury lockups off the list? Let us know in the comments below

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