5 Luxury Prisons Where You’d Enjoy Living

Bizarre, Crime, NakedLaw

If you’ve ever traveled outside the USA, it’s probably occurred to you that if you somehow wound up in prison, you’d be screwed.  In fact, anxiety over being trapped in a foreign prison has resulted in many a Hollywood movie and TV show featuring the plight of Americans locked up abroad.

But are prisons abroad really that bad? In some cases, yes, but in others you might be surprised. As it turns out, there are actually some really nice prisons (as far as prisons go) in other countries. So, if you plan on getting arrested abroad, try to make sure you’re sent to these places.  You might not want to leave.

1. Norway—Halden Fengsel prison


Earlier this year, Norway opened its newest prison, a project that had been 10 years in the making. By looking at the amenities of Halden Fengsel, you might assume it’s a resort, not a place that houses criminals.

According to a recent Time Magazine profile of the joint, Halden boasts a sound studio, jogging trails, lodging for families of inmates, flat screen TVs and minifridges in the cells, long vertical windows to let in sunlight, and even shared living rooms and kitchens for every 10 to 12 cells.

It’s all part of a new “humane” approach to combating crime. It’s designed to create a calm environment, and even the prison guards play sports and eat meals with the inmates.

But does this nice approach really work? According to their statistics, about 20% of Norway’s prisoners end up back in jail. In the U.S., nearly 60% of prisoners end up back in jail. You be the judge.

2. Austria—Leoben Justice Center


This just might be the coolest looking prison in the world. The gym looks like something you’d see at an upscale apartment complex, and the furniture reminds us of something out of an IKEA catalog. The glass (shatterproof) structure prison was designed by architect Josef Hohensinn, and if you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was a sleek office building.

Cells in this prison look more like dorm rooms than prison cells.  Single-occupancy cells come with their own private kitchenette, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a private bathroom. The idea is that the more normal life is inside prison, the less resocializing and adjusting they have to do when they leave.

3. Spain—Aranjuez Prison


A prison with family cells that have Disney characters painted on the walls? A playground and nursery for kids? Welcome to Spain. This prison was designed so that youngsters could bond with their criminal parents without being an intimidating setting. The family units at Aranjuez let inmates work on their parenting skills, with these cells being dubbed “5 star cells.”

But the kids don’t get to grow up in prison forever. They’re only allowed to stay until age 3, when they’ll be sent off to live with a relative or to social services.

4. Norway (again)—Bastoey Prison


Introducing the world’s first eco-prison. At Bastoey Prison, inmates learn the value of protecting the environment and respecting one another. The prison is located on a luxurious island in Norway, and it doesn’t have any locked gates or barbed wire. Everything operates on solar power, and inmates recycle, tend the fields, fish, and care for the facility’s chickens, horses, sheep, and cows.

Think this is some cushy setup for white collar criminals? Think again. Bastoey Prison is home to murderers, rapists, and other violent criminals. It’s all part of a 10-year project designed to see if teaching prisoner’s such values can help rehabilitate them more effectively.

5. Guatemala—Pavon Prison (until 2006)

You might think that some European prisons are the ultimate in luxury, but Pavon prison in Guatemala took it to a whole new level.  Within Pavon’s wire fences prisoners enjoyed a life that was a cross between a luxury resort and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  Easily available to prisoners were restaurants, luxury goods, prostitutes, cocaine and marijuana.  Pavon even had its own drug factories that employed inmates.  One particularly well-to-do prisoner actually built himself a two-story townhouse with a jacuzzi. Prisoners walked around freely and lived in a “prison” that was more like a hedonist resort.

How on Earth could this happen? Well, at some point the Guatamalan government gave up on Pavon and adopted a laissez-faire attitude.  The result was a prison completely run by prisoners.  For certain prisoners, that meant living the high life.  For others lower on the food chain, that meant a life of indentured servitude in drug factories, so I suppose Pavon was a great place for Tony Montana types, and no not so much for others.

Unfortunately for Pavon’s kingpins, the gravy train came to a stop when Guatamalan police raided the facility in 2006 and took it over.