The 10 Most Dangerous Prisons In The US
Published on January 28, 2021
I think it’s reasonably safe to assume that nobody wants to go to prison, Michael Schofield being the exception. While all prisons are infamous for housing dangerous criminals, some are even more notorious than others. There are some that you absolutely would not want to be locked up in. With that, here are the ten most dangerous prisons in the US.
1. United States Penitentiary, Marion
The United States Penitentiary is a former supermax prison located in Marion, Illinois. Interestingly enough, this prison was opened in 1963 to replace another infamous prison – Alcatraz, which closed down that very year.
Perhaps the most violent event in this prison’s history happened on October 22, 1983, when two guards were violently killed by members of the Aryan Brotherhood, a neo-Nazi prison gang. Because of this incident, the United States Penitentiary went into “permanent lockdown,” being utilized as a “control unit” prison of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Its supermax classification meant that inmates were subject to solitary confinement for almost the entire day – up to 22 or 23 hours.
2. Rikers Island
Rikers Island is known as one of the most violent prisons in the country. This prison is where convicted sex offender and former producer Harvey Weinstein was remanded before his trial in March of last year. Many reporters and investigators who’ve had the opportunity of entering this prison attest to the severe conditions and treatments inmates, especially the mentally and physically ill, receive here. Even in recent times, there have been a series of deaths and beatings reported in this prison, earning Rikers Island a spot on our list.
3. San Quentin State Prison
The San Quentin State Prison is the oldest prison in the state of California and one of the oldest prisons overall in the United States. As such, it is often referenced in television and movies. However, behind that notoriety is a history of violent crimes, riots, rapes, and gang activities. One of the primary reasons for this violent atmosphere is the overcrowding problem due to a large influx of prisoners. Of course, that wouldn’t be too much of a problem if it weren’t for the fact that the prison’s facilities weren’t made to house that large of an inmate population, inciting anger and frustration among its prisoners.
To compound to that, prisoners are far outnumbering the number of prison guards. With all these factors added up, violence and trouble are likely outcomes. The latest major event that happened here was in 2005 when 80 White and Latino inmates fought for nearly six minutes. It took 50 riot officers to stop the fighting, which had resulted in the injuries of 42 inmates.
4. Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary
The Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary is an all-male, medium-security federal prison that houses some of the country’s most dangerous criminals under oppressive conditions. From 1903 to 2005, it served as the largest maximum-security prison in the country before it was downgraded to a medium-security one. It is most notably known for housing Michael Vick for 23 months for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring. This facility is an all-male prison dedicated to carrying out the judgments of Federal courts.
5. Louisiana State Penitentiary
The Louisiana State Penitentiary has an inmate population of 6300, making it the most densely populated maximum-security prison throughout the entire country. This prison has a very bloody past, with hundreds of murders and stabbings occurring from 1960 to the 1990s. But perhaps the most horrifying fact about this 18,000-acre facility is that it used to be a slave plantation back in the day. For the most part, the prison has turned a new leaf ever since its new warden introduced an alternative approach to correctional treatment by using religion instead of force. But it still remains one of the most dangerous prisons in the US.
6. Folsom State Prison
Folsom State Prison is the second-oldest penitentiary in the state, having been built in the year 1880. Besides being the second-oldest penitentiary in its state, it is also one of the country’s first maximum-security prisons. One of the most alarming facts about this facility is that its inmate population has a yearly growth of about 68%! This growth rate was alarming enough to prompt legislators to demand a larger budget to construct more cells to house incoming inmates.
One of the craziest events I’ve read about this penitentiary happened in 2012 when two prisoners slit the throat of another under the command of their gang head. However, this was never reported to the authorities because of the prison’s “code of silence,” which is an unspoken rule to keep hush about violence and maltreatment that takes place within the prison walls.
7. Sing Sing Correctional Facility
Sing Sing might sound like a completely non-threatening place to be in, but it’s actually known to have an incredibly large number of attempted escapes in the country. Actually, the phrase “attempted escapes” may be misleading, as some prisoners really manage to evade recapture. The facility is situated next to the Hudson River, close to railroad tracks, inspiring prisoners of an easy escape.
8. Cook County Jail
Of course, the facility that housed Al Capone and John Wayne Gacy would make a great addition to this list. Cook County Jail is located in Cook County, Illinois, and is the largest jail in America. The major negative aspects of this jail are the apparent verbal and physical abuse wardens subject their inmates to, as well as overcrowding and rodent-infestation within. If you know an inmate inside, you won’t want to visit them with the highly inefficient visitation system Cook County Jail has; it’s an absolute nightmare, where you will see yourself waiting unjustifiably long hours. Despite having numerous staff and employees, Cook County Jail is one of the most poorly managed facilities and one of the most dangerous prisons in the US.
9. ADX Florence Facility
ADX Florence Facility can be found near Florence, Colorado, and is one of the most notorious federal prisons in the country, earning the moniker of “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” This facility is the only federal supermax prison in all of the United States, known for keeping its residents under solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day in cramped 7-by-12 foot concrete cells. If that’s not enough to drive you crazy, I don’t know what will. The facility also houses some of the most violent and dangerous criminals, from terrorists to white supremacists.
10. Attica Correctional Facility
Attica Correctional Facility is found in Wyoming County, New York. Like the other prisons on this list, it houses some of the most dangerous criminals in the country. What’s unique to this facility is that it is home to inmates who have had disciplinary problems at other facilities, too. The most notable event in its eerie history is a riot that occurred in 1971, where 30 inmates and 10 correctional officers lost their lives. Due to this and a string of other riots, the facility was then equipped with a tear gas system to subdue residents within the mess hall and industry area.
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About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.