The concept of human imprisonment is one that has courted our species through a number of sociological ages. As the destination of all who find themselves on the negative end of the many justice systems which have acted to ultimately govern each and every human society up until this point, prisons play a pivotal role in said systems. Whilst evolving in their own right over the course of the millennia’s, prisons have also grown to fill a position which crosses both traditional culture and popular culture. The subject of countless novellas, movies and TV shows, prisons are a concept all too familiar to most people. Though there are an uncountable amount of prisoner facilities in our beautiful world, there are some the names of which are rather widely known, or at least should be. This list seeks to take you on a whistle-stop tour of ten such facilities, educating and entertaining simultaneously.
10. HMS Belmarsh
HM, or ‘her Majesties’ Prison Belmarsh is a ‘category A’ men’s prison located in Greenwich, South East London. Though only active as a high security prison since 1991, the facility has grown famous in the UK as well as further afield. Housing some of Britain’s most notorious and revered criminals during its two decades, Belmarsh’s current population stands around the 1,000 mark. As well gaining a reputation for housing such notorious offenders as Charles Bronson and Ronnie Biggs, Belmarsh is also noted for its previous reputation as the ‘British Guantanamo’, due to its use for the detainment of untried ‘terror charge’ prisoners in the early 2000’s following 9/11.
9. Terre Haute Federal Correction Complex
Located in the city of Terra Haute in Vigo County, Western Indiana, this facility first opened in 1940. Covering all three security classifications, high, medium and minimum, the complex is all-male and comprises of two separate facilities. Namely, the Federal Correction Institution (FCI), Terra Haute and the United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute, each facility serves a quite separate function. The former is a medium security branch intended for the holding of inmates in need of particular monitoring whilst the latter is predominantly home to death row inmates. The combined population of the facilities which comprise the Terre Haute complex is around 3,000.
8. Tadmor Military Prison
Originally constructed as a barracks by the French Mandate forces in the early 20th century, today Tadmor Military Prison is one of the most renowned facilities of its kind on the face of our planet. Located approximately 200 kilometres north east of the Syrian capital Damascus, Tadmor made a name for itself in the decades following its first use as an incarceration facility as a result of typically harsh conditions, as well as leniency with the likes of human rights, torture and even execution. Though closed in 2001 following a string of political and religious atrocities, Tadmor was reopened in 2011 to facilitate the detainment of prisoners linked to the ‘Arab Spring’.
7. Camp Delta
Camp Delta is the name given to the detainment centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Notorious world over for its uses in the incarceration of prolific figures carrying a high terror risk, as well as those apprehended in current war zones, the camp has gained an international reputation (rather unfortunately) as one of the most symbolic institutions of our times. Constructed during the spring of 2002, Camp Delta is divided, much like any other US prison, into several facilities intended for inmates of certain need or categorization. Due to its location on international soil, Camp Delta has played host to some rather questionable occurrences involving the human rights of its prisoners, but that’s another story for another day.
6. ADX Florence
Opening in 1994, United State Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) is located to the south of Florence, Colorado. Carrying the status of a ‘supermax’, or super maximum security prison, ADX Florence is a rather well known place, having become known colloquially as the ‘Alcatraz of the Rockies’. Housing some 439 male prisoners, the facility is home to those deemed too dangerous for detainment in the countries other high security prisons, making this a very tight ship indeed. There are some six levels of security within ADX Florence, all of which are pretty severe and see most inmates contained separately at all times. The prisoners populating the facility range in terms of crimes committed, and whilst there are a number of notable international and domestic ‘terrorists’ detained within, the prison also hosts numerous prolific organized crime gang members and Mafioso’s.