Top 5 Worst Prisons In The US

For most of us, the first thing that comes to mind whenever we hear the word prison is life inside it. With walls built of aggression and violence, we can’t deny that life behind bars is like a living hell.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime”. But what they didn’t tell us is the terrible and inhumane treatment most inmates experience in prison.

These prisons in the US can surely testify to that. These top 5 worst prisons in the US will prove that it’s always best not to involve yourself in any type of mess.

Julia Tutwiler Prison, Alabama

The front drive of Julia Tutwiler Prison in Alabama.
Image Source: Alabama Department of Corrections.

Julia Tutwiler Prison is a maximum-security prison for women who are mostly in death row. This prison is known for its prison staff who repeatedly harass and rape its prisoners. (Related: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Life in Women’s Prison)

There are many times that the prisoners tried reaching out to the administrators but eventually gave up. According to the inmates, when prisoners file a complaint, they are often placed in isolation as punishment.

Attica Correctional Facility, New York

The front gate of Attica Correctional Facility in New York.
Image Source: Wikimedia

Attica is a super-max prison run by the New York State Department of Correctional Services. This notorious prison is famous for its prisoner’s uprising that happened in 1971.

Four decades after the brutal prison riot, Attica still operates until now. It’s still marked as having the worst prison condition where prison staff physically and sexually abuse its prisoners.

San Quentin State Prison, California

An aerial view of San Quentin State Prison in California, one of the worst prisons in the US.
Image Source: Wikimedia

San Quentin State Prison is a high-security prison and is the oldest prison in California. It’s known as the home for death row inmates as it houses over 3,000 prisoners.

Although it’s only subjective, some say that those inmates that have been convicted with sexual offenses don’t live long inside. They usually get assaulted or killed by their other inmates. That’s why some of them prefer committing suicide than suffer in the violent hands of their co-inmates.

Rikers Island in Queens, New York

An aerial view of Rikers Island in Queens, New York, one of the worst prisons in the US.
Image Source: Wikimedia

Rikers Prison is also known for its abusive prison staff. There had been many times that Rikers has been exposed by the Correctional Department itself. In fact, because of the maltreatment of the prison staff, one inmate was tortured and killed. This is one of the biggest scandals that Rikers got involved in.

According to the investigation, there’s a practice inside Rikers known as “the Program”. This organization is like a cockfight where guards pit inmates to fight against each other.

At the time of the scandal, officers who were part of “The Program” were arrested. However, according to the investigators, the organization is still very much in place.

Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, Leake County, Mississippi

The Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Leake County, Mississippi, one of the worst prisons in the US.
Image Source:

Walnut Grove is a private prison that was shut down in 2016 because of its barbaric treatment to inmates. It was operated by Management and Training Corp., a Utah-based company that is one of the largest private prison contractors in the US.

The US Department of Justice report states that older prisoners habitually rape younger prisoners.

It was also found that guards denied some prisoners access to medical care. Smuggling weapons and drugs inside the jail are also common as well as sexual relations between the guards and the inmates. (Related: How Prisoners Deal with Addiction)

Judge Carlton Reeves of the Federal District Court even wrote about Walnut Grove prison in a 2012 settlement order:

“It paints a picture of such horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world.”

While there are hundreds, or maybe even thousands of worse prisons in the US, these 5 are the worst of the worst.

Did you find this post informative? Then be sure to check out our post on how to prepare for adjusting to life after prison and the important facts about mass incarceration in the US.

About Franchette Jardin

Agatha has done some extensive research in the past about prison and life inside one. Now she writes prison-related articles to help inmates cope and begin a better life after.