American Prisons: Worst in the World?

By Mari Maxwell on April 1, 2014

Regardless of where you are in the world, prison is not exactly an ideal place to end up. A lot of people would probably assume that the worst prisons are in third world countries, in places that can barely afford to keep their citizens fed and clothed, countries that are constantly being run over by disease and famine. However, in a poll that was taken, it showed that out of 10 of the worst prisons in the world, five of them existed within the confines of the United States of America.

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In Louisiana, there was a prisoner who was in solitary confinement for forty years, which is a world record. It is a farm prison, and prisoners are forced to work on the farm year round, performing various duties to keep the farm running. This prison has been accused of using cruel and unusual degrees of punishment towards the prisoners.

In California, there are hot beds of gang activity. The San Quentin prison is one of the only ones in the state the has death row for men. It is often said that if you are imprisoned within the walls of this facility, and you are not in a gang, your life is at serious risk.

In Arizona, one prison is spread out to various locations within Phoenix. The inmates are forced to wear pink undergarments, hoping to emasculate them while they are imprisoned. As well as this, there is a certain part of the prison that is entirely outdoors and the temperature, as well as the heat index, has been measured up to 165 degrees. There are conditions of this jail that have been ruled unconstitutional.

In Colorado, there is a prison that only allows their prisoners to be outside for an hour out of the twenty four of each day, and no natural light reaches their cells. The prisoners are in their cells for 23 hours of the day, and have little to no interaction with anyone else inside of the prison, other prisoners and guards alike.

In another prison within California, there are prisoners that are put into solitary confinement for misbehaviors. When they are allowed outside, they can only see the sky through the bars of the cage that they are in. The cells are small and confined spaces that afford very little movement.

These conditions are not only horrendous, but incredibly sad. America is supposed to be one of the most humane and profitable countries in the world. It is a democracy and it affords it’s citizens a lot of rights that most countries don’t have. Why is it, then, that this country has one of the worst reputations for their prison systems in the world?

It is understood that in order to allow such freedoms, the country must also protect such freedoms from people who wish to take them away. However, these conditions are below the level that America seems to wish to work on.

If we forget about rehabilitation, and we forget about the lives of the men and women that are locked up for years at a time, then we are forgetting the basic level of humanity that this country should be running on.

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