When you think of prison, I bet your thoughts are dominated by images of iron bars, dark hallways, sub-par food and general overall dismay in the air. But what if I told you not all prisons look like that.
In fact there are some around the world that, despite being legit prisons, are the exact opposite of what I just described.
Here are 12 of the world’s most comfortable prisons – institutions that have changed how we look at correctional facilities.
1. Bastoy Prison, Norway
Located on Bastoy Island in Oslofjord, this prison houses a little over 100 inmates who, within the prison complex, enjoy luxuries like tennis, horseback-riding, fishing and sunbathing. With tasteful cottages to house them and lush farms to work on, the prisoners at this minimum security institution probably often forget they’re prisoners.
2. HMP Addiewell, Scotland
A designated learning prison, Her Majesty’s Prison Addiewell in southern Scotland allots each of its resident inmates 40 weekly hours of productive skill building. With a special focus on helping inmates transition back to civilian life in a purposeful and fulfilling manner, Addiewell’s 700 prisoners are sure in good hands.
3. Otago Corrections Facility, New Zealand
While its security measures are not taken lightly, Otago provides its inmates with comfortable rooms, and attributes great significance to change through skill building. Holding classes in light engineering, dairy farming and cooking among other things, Otago strives to rehabilitate effectively.
4. Justice Center Leoben, Austria
A quaint European residence for non-violent offenders, the Justice Center prison gives each of its prisoners a single cell, with a private bathroom, and kitchenette, plus a television. All that and their fully-equipped gym, basketball court and outdoor recreation area would make for a considerably cushy sentence, if you ask me.
5. Aranjuez Prison, Spain
Addressing the way that correctional facilities rip families apart, this innovative institution provides for infant children to live their first years with their incarcerated parents. Equipped with cribs, Disney characters on the walls, and a kids’ play area, Aranjuez gives incarcerated parents a chance to experience parenthood despite circumstances, and a parent to those too young to comprehend the reality of being imprisoned.
6. Champ-Dollon Prison, Switzerland
Previously infamous for overcrowding, the newly refurbished residences in Champ-Dollon boasts of spacious triple-occupancy cells that include an attached bathroom. Ample facilities such as these allow the inmates to feel less like prisoners and more like university dorm-mates working together towards rehabilitation.
7. JVA Fuhlsbuettel Prison, Germany
This Hamburg prison is home to many long-serving inmates who enjoy spacious cells that have beds, a couch and a private shower and toilet along with plentiful natural light. Among its many facilities, JVA Fuhlsbuettel provides its prisoners machines to do their laundry and access to a conference room and a recreation room.
8. Sollentuna Prison, Sweden
This correctional facility houses its inmates in private cells with comfortable beds and attached bathrooms. The prisoners have the luxury of a state of the art gym, an open-for-use kitchen, and a spacious recreation room equipped with a TV and a couch.
9. Halden Prison, Norway
Surrounded by ample greenery and natural light in plenty, Halden is called the most humane prison in the world for a reason. Every inmate enjoys comfortable quarters with relative privacy. Skill-building classes, a rec room stocked with TV shows, movies and video games, a fully equipped gym and an actual functioning musical recording facility make this prison every long-serving inmate’s dream.
10. Cebu Prison, Philippines
While Cebu Prison may not match the luxury standards of the aforementioned facilities, they have championed the cause of inmate recreation and creativity. Inmates at this correctional facility indulge in singing and dancing to a selection of musical numbers. Not only do these prisoners perform for civilian audiences, they even sign autographs.
11. San Pedro Prison, Bolivia
Certainly not the hero of luxurious prisons, but San Pedro belongs on this list for its one-of-a-kind in-prison community set up. With self-appointed leaders, and entire neighbourhoods homes and families, with businesses and cafes, this may be the most unconventionally comfortable of all the world’s prisons.
12. Pondok Bambu Prison, Indonesia
While a luxurious lifestyle comes at a price – corruption – the Pondok Bambu prison is a women’s facility fully equipped with everything from air-conditioners and refrigerators to karaoke machines and nail salons. Beauty treatments and recreational classes in this complex full of gardens and sculptures would be undeniably comfortable.
Here’s hoping it’s not long before correctional institutions around the world take their example to promote a more holistic approach to rehabilitation. ‘Cause hey, I wasn’t planning on breaking any laws, but it would certainly help to know that if I did, I’d go to a prison that won’t keep me from watching Westworld.