Did you know there are over 6,000 correctional facilities in the United States of America? In addition to military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories, there are 1,566 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,850 local jails, 1,510 juvenile correctional facilities, 186 immigration detention facilities, and 82 Indian country jails. Some of them are the worst places to be locked up while others may not be as bad. This blog article will discuss “10 Best and Worst Correctional Facilities To Learn About In The United States”.
Here is a list of the worst and best correctional facilities in the United States (in no particular order):
The Worst Correctional Facilities
1. San Quentin State Prison – California
This is one of the oldest and most dangerous prisons in California. It is considered dangerous because of the type of inmates it houses. From gangsters to murderers to top drug cartel members. It is safe to say that this particular prison is reserved for violent criminals. The maximum-security correctional facility houses only male inmates. Once under private management, San Quentin is now a place of violence and is extremely overcrowded. If you're thinking of a prison with the largest death row population in the United States, that's what San Quentin is. The prison currently holds over 3000 inmates and currently only allows adult visitation on Saturdays and Sundays to general population incarcerated individuals. There are no phone privileges in this state prison, and you can contact family members through emails, physical, and video visitation.
2. Pelican Bay State Prison - California
The Pelican Bay State Prison is a super maximum-level facility infamous for being one of the deadliest U.S. prisons and its gang activities. While people are sent there to serve their time as offenders, they may form or become part of worse gangs while in prison. Pelican Bay State Prison currently has over 3,000 convicts serving time, including violent offenders. The prison cells in this facility are windowless. Phone calls are prohibited, and there are barely any visitations that involve physical contact. There are over 500 Pelican Bay prisoners who have been in solitary confinement for over a decade.
3. Idaho Correctional Center - Kuna, Idaho
It may be difficult to associate violence in a correctional center in Idaho because Idaho is known for its amazing food, beautiful mountains, and incredible parks. However, there is an understanding situation at Idaho Correctional Center, a supermax facility. Many of the inmates are on death row. The violence, which is led by gang members, is reportedly promoted by prison staff. Also famously known as “gladiator school”, there is always a constant report of an assault in this facility. It houses a maximum of 2,100 inmates.
4. Rikers Island - Queens, New York
The violence and danger in this jail complex facility are due to the abuse and neglect of prisoners. As of December 2022, 19 people had already passed away while being held by the city, which is the highest death rate since 2013. The inmates are constantly neglected and denied medical care. There have been several homicides in this prison. On January 23, 2023, a Rikers Island correction officer was arrested and charged with one count of deprivation of rights. It’s alleged that the correction officer ignored the cries of an inmate who swallowed poisonous cleaning supplies and later died. There has been talks of closing Rikers Island. The plan to close Rikers Island is reportedly delayed until 2027 when its closing is doubtful. Some famous people who have been in the facility include Lil Wayne and Tupac Shakur.
5. Attica Correctional Facility - New York
Located in Attica, New York, this facility is notorious for its 1971 riot. The riot led to the death of 39 people, and this included civilians. The notorious facility has housed Mark David Chapman, the killer of John Lennon and Colin Ferguson. In 2022, the violence in this prison hit a new high. The living conditions are poor, and the housemates go through brutal methods of discipline. It houses some of the most dangerous criminals in New York.
The Best Correctional Facilities
6. The Fremont Detention Facility – Fremont, California
Also known as the most luxurious prison in the US, inmates can transfer to Fremont Jail from anywhere in the state if they can afford the stay and maintenance. There is a charge of $155 per night taken from unwanted prison tenants. The prison has gaming tables, comfortable jail beds, showers, and a widescreen HDTV for the inmates to enjoy different TV shows. It has 54 cells only and houses only those who have been convicted of minor offenses.
7. Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin - California
The low-security federal prison, also known as FCI - Dublin, is for female inmates only. There are about 892 inmates, and the prison has some comforts. The inmates can sunbathe in their shorts and shirts during the weekends. There is also a lobby television with night-time access on weekdays and weekends. The prison has housed Sara Jane Moore, who attempted to assassinate a president in 1975. There is a high level of supervision, and the inmates have immediate access to medical care.
8. Mike Durfee State Prison – South Dakota
Mike Durfee State Prison is one of the oldest prisons in South Dakota, and it houses around 1240 inmates. It's no shock that Mike Durfee State Prison is on the list of America’s best prisons. This facility is credited with running a long-distance parenting program that promotes inmates' interaction with their children as parents. Inmates are employed through correctional industrial programs at this prison to repair cars, build products including visitor center kiosks and camping cabins, fix wheelchairs and bicycles, and refurbish bicycles. If you have a family member or friend in this prison, there are several options to stay in contact with them. They consider visitation as a form of rehabilitation in the facility. The jail allows its inmates access to games and writing materials and lets them purchase hygiene products with the money in their account.
9. Sandstone Federal Correctional Institution - Minnesota
The good thing about this correctional institution is the medical and healthcare services it offers to the inmates. From dental care to eye care, the inmates often get prescription glasses. It is keen on giving quality literacy programs to its inmates and there are group counseling sessions to ensure their mental health is in check. They also have library services, advanced occupational training, and apprenticeships. Sandstone Federal Correctional Institution houses about 1,300 inmates.
10. Pensacola Federal Prison Camp - Florida
This minimum-security level facility houses about 338 inmates. If Forbes once said a prison facility is cushy, who are we to argue? The facility is kept for people with mostly white-collar crime. This involves healthcare fraud, wire fraud, and the likes. The prison has housed the Former US. Rep. Chris Collins for a few months until he received a pardon during Donald Trump’s time as president. The prison offers its convicts some perks such as the chance to play racquetball, volleyball, and horseshoes as recreational activities. For movie night, they can attend movie night in the jail theater. The meals served in this prison have included garlic bread, hot dogs, and pasta with red sauce, which may not even be considered prison standard.
Correctional facilities may not generally be considered good vacation stays by incarcerated individuals or their loved ones. However, some people may believe that it’s more difficult or impossible to successfully serve time under the worst conditions. Some other worst facilities reportedly are Angola Prison Farm - Louisiana, Florence Federal Correctional Complex – Colorado, and Orleans Parish Prison, Louisiana. What other best and worst correctional facilities do you believe should have made the list?