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10 Prisons That are Nicer Than Luxury Hotels


We don't want to come across as insensitive, but there are times when living in a maximum security prison isn't as bad as expected. While that doesn't mean we suggest you go out and commit a crime, not all prisons are like the ones depicted in the movies featuring murderers and rapists. 

Of course, there aren't a lot of correctional facility options with a fully equipped gym and horseback riding. That's right: some prisons actually have a fully equipped gym for their prisoners and even offer amenities like horseback riding. What kind of correctional facility offers those amenities?

Ah, yes: white-collar crime prisons. We often forget about these types of prisons, which are often likened to country clubs. Of course, they're being paid for by your tax dollars, which means embezzlers and other criminals are living the life of Riley with colorful rooms in open prisons.

Some of these comfortable jails let entire neighborhoods of visitors come and include amenities like a kids play area and relaxed security measures, along with the ability to meet with civilian audiences. No triple occupancy cells for these prisoners, it seems! That is hardly fair to our way of thinking…

Regardless of whether you are searching for the best place to serve out your sentence or are simply curious about the accommodations of luxurious penitentiaries, the following is a list of the 10 nicest prisons in the world that rival many luxury hotels, resorts, and spas. Please do NOT commit a crime!

Our Criteria

When examining each of these minimum security prison complexes, we did a lot of research to make sure we found the most humane prison in the world. Unlike other prison complex options, these facilities have a private bathroom for residents and provide the most humane prison experience possible. It might seem hard to believe, but some include rehabilitation programs and private cells.

These include places like Cebu Provincial Detention or Luzira Upper Prison, which often include self-appointed leaders who help nonviolent offenders enjoy their stay. Life in places like these is basically like staying at a five star hotel: you might even get to play on rugby courts! Incarcerated parents may even bring their little ones to stay with them! To bring you information on these humane prisons, we:

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The 10 Most Humane Prisons in the World That Operate Like a Five Star Hotel 

Now, we're not jealous that people who live at a minimum security campus like Justice Center Leoben Austria or Qincheng prison get vocational training, skill building classes, access to a rehabilitation center and recreation room, minimal iron bars, rare life sentences, productive skills building, a basketball court, attached bathrooms, and a separate building with private rooms. 

In fact, it's not a bad thing that the entire structure of a learning prison provides comfortable quarters that even elderly women would find enjoyable. Severe, maximum security prisons are often way too harsh and provide minimal natural light and heavy locked doors that can institutionalize people. While it might seem strange that a prison would have dairy farming and light engineering courses, this kind of training can keep prisoners from a life of crime.

1. Halden Prison

Located in Halden, Norway, Halden Prison was established in 2010 with a focus on rehabilitation through its design. As the most humane prison in the world, the layout of the entire structure helps inmates reintegrate into society by simulating life outside of the walls.

When it comes to luxurious prisons and correctional facilities that provide better support than a maximum security prison, Halden Prison is hard to top. This maximum security prison includes a private bathroom for each prisoner who stays in this correctional facility.

There are also a variety of activities that vary from sports to music, all of which are used for reintegration purposes. The staff is not armed to create a sense of community further and minimize violence. Similar to the Oxford Federal Correctional Institution, the goal is to change people forever.

As a result, the prison boasts humane conditions, beautiful architecture, and design that provides a home-like feel. The cells are fully furnished and include a television set as well as a refrigerator. Residents also get a recreational room, productive skill-building skill-building classes, and more.

While it sounds like a minimum security prison, it’s not. Halden Prison is actually considered maximum security with dangerous criminals, including murderers, rapists, and child molesters. Sure, there are some nonviolent offenders here who might do better in a minimum-security prison.

However, a minority of inmates in Halden Prison are behind bars due to drug-related crimes. They get access to natural light and support through skills building, including dairy farming courses. Separately, sex offenders and those requiring psychiatric assistance are in a separate area with comfortable quarters.

Conventional security devices such as electric fences, snipers, towers, and barbed wire do not exist in this prison. Surveillance cameras only exist outside and cannot be found in the cells, hallways, classrooms, workshops, and common rooms. In this way, prisoners kind of live on their own island.

2. Otago Corrections Facility

Located near Milton, New Zealand, this learning prison offers three rehabilitation programs. The Medium Intensity Rehabilitation Program was developed for prisoners who fall in the middle-risk range. These might include non violent offenders who could thrive with some light engineering courses.

The Short Rehabilitation Program focuses on a smaller group of prisoners who require rehabilitation but are not serving enough time to complete the long program. They typically get private cells, though some might live like university dorm mates similar to their civilian life. 

The third is a Drug Treatment unit for those with drug and alcohol problems. The idea of prisons likened to five star cells is to teach people, including incarcerated parents, how to live a life without drugs. Some might even get attached bathrooms to make their prison experience easier.

Dubbed the “Milton Hilton,” the property boasts rugby courts, underfloor heating during the winter months, and fresh towels. Luxurious prisons and correctional facilities like this also include minimal prison walls, a fully equipped gym, cross country skiing, and other prison amenities.

3. Butner Federal Correctional Institution

The most luxurious prisons in the world often hold some of the biggest names in white-collar crime. Home to white-collar inmates such as Bernie Madoff, the Butner Federal Correctional Institution in North Carolina boasts quiet corridors and a property full of flowers and greenery.

There are four facilities on this correctional facility campus: Butner Low (a minimum security prison), Butner Medium (two medium-security facilities), and the Butner Federal Medical Center, which focuses on behavioral sciences and oncology and is designed to help correct problematic behaviors.

These correctional facilities provide the largest medical complex in the entire Federal Bureau of Prisons division. Like most luxurious correctional facilities, this prison complex includes a recreational room for non violent offenders, a private bathroom for each sell, a fully equipped gym and horseback riding.

4. Suomenlinna Prison

Suomenlinna Prison is one of the world’s only “open prisons” that does not have any locked doors or cells. Located outside of Helsinki, Finland, prisoners share entire houses and have private rooms. It’s one of the safest prisons in the world for incarcerated parents and other individuals.

In this prison, they provide prisoners with their own island to help incarcerated parents and white collar criminals feel more comfortable. Expect a recreation room, various types of activities, and other unique amenities that make this one of the best prisons in the world for safety and health.

While prisoners are here, they are put to work on various reconstructions of the fortress around the island. Since it used to be a sea fortress, the prison is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is popular with tourists as being a picturesque picnicking spot.

As a result, incarcerated parents can meet people outside of prison, which makes this one of the most open prisons in the world. Of course, prisoners are watched carefully if they do see any tourists during their stay: even non violent criminals may have the potential for violence. 

5. Mahanoy State Correctional Institution

Located in West Mahanoy Township, Pennsylvania, the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution is a medium-security, all-male facility. Inside, the nonviolent offenders enjoy every amenity, from outdoor football fields to lounge furniture in common areas. It’s similar to places like Champ Dollon Prison.

For example, prisoners in Champ Dollon Prison and Sollentuna Prison focus specifically on improving their skills. The same is true of Mahanoy. Offenders will work in a variety of different positions to improve their job skills and become more skilled in a variety of different capabilities. 

Just like in Champ Dollon Prison and Sollentuna Prison, offenders have the opportunity to work in the correction industries program, which is a distribution center for commissary items. Other jobs include road crew to collect garbage along the interstate. So, not great jobs, but a chance to learn more.

Thankfully, inmates can also participate in apprenticeship programs, which teach them new marketable skills such as electrical wiring, masonry, culinary, carpentry, and painting, like Cebu Prison, Champ Dollon Prison, and Sollentuna Prison, which are also great correctional facilities.

6. Her Majesty’s Prison Addiewell

In close proximity to the village of Addiewell in Scotland, Her Majesty’s (HM) Prison Addiewell is more of a bed-and-breakfast than a prison. The facility focuses on rehabilitation, as opposed to punishment, by giving inmates clean and colorful rooms as well as full-time jobs to keep them busy. 

The prison is a male-only, medium security facility similar to Cebu Prison, Pondok Bambu Prison, or the Justice Center Leoben Austria. It also has a feel similar to Qinchen Prison and even JVA Fuhlsbuettel Prison Germany. Each prisoner gets treated with respect at these facilities.

Just as importantly, Her Majesty’s Prison Addiewell helps prisoners meet with family members, which can often make a difference for some people. Often, the support of loved ones can help make this experience less devastating and help prisoners fight through recidivist behaviors.

7. Jessup Correctional Institution

Looking for a new skill? Once per week, a group of elderly women visit the Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland to instruct inmates how to knit. This practice first accrued scorn but has become one of the most popular activities within the prison walls, amazingly enough!

The Jessup Correctional Institution is a maximum security prison boasting a library, which can be used for legal research and writing, and a college program known as the Prison Scholars Program. Many of the courses teach philosophy, which is run by Loyola University Profession Drew Leder.

In this way, prisoners can leave this facility feeling like they’re ready to live a civilian life again. Jessup Correctional Institution is one of the most comfortable prison facilities in America. The goal is to ensure that criminals feel no choice but to fall back into a life of crime after leaving prison.

8. Bastoy Prison

Located in Bastoy, Norway, this prison is a small slice of paradise as it is situated on its own island and boasts amenities like horseback riding, cross-country skiing, fishing, tennis, and fine dining. If that sounds like a five star hotel, well that’s not too shocking: read on to find out more.

The inmates do not live in cells here. Instead, they retire for the evening in wooden cottages that dot the island. That’s right: wooden cottages. People who stay at this facility are probably living a more comfortable and enjoyable life than most law-abiding citizens. 

Furthermore, Bastoy Prison is attempting to become the world’s “first ecological prison in the world.” In 2014, the prison was given the honor of receiving the 2014 Blanche Major Reconciliation Prize for the promotion of human values and tolerance. Norway certainly knows how to treat its prisoners.

9. Luzira Upper Prison

Prisons in Africa are not commonly known for their human rights. However, Luzira Upper Prison in Uganda is the exception to the rule. With extensive education and rehabilitation programs, this prison boasts one of the lowest reoffending rates in the world and is very, very comfortable.

Each Easter, local radio station 104.1 Power FM contacts the prisoners and provides them with goodies such as salt, bull, toiletries, sodas, and sugar. Some inmates have formed bands and performed for visitors, and the food is said to be tasty and even worth selling to people outside the facility!

It’s prisons like this that serve as a reminder that Africa is not what it seems like on television or in film. Over the last few decades, Africa has modernized and become a better place to live. Even its prisons have become far more comfortable and safe over the years, which is a wonderful thing.

10. Oxford Federal Correctional Institution

No barbed wire exists at Oxford in Wisconsin. Instead, lush green fields inspire the inmates during their painting and art classes. Known as the “stress reduction technique,” many prisons are using art as a form of relaxation and rehabilitation that helps them succeed outside of prison.

In this way, this is proving to be an excellent method of rehabilitating inmates and making sure that they regain civilian life. The common trend within these top 10 prisons around the world is their focus on rehabilitation and reintegration into society to make their lives easier.

By offering the inmates a variety of activities, educational classes, work, and vocational training, they can be easily reintegrated back into society. The amenities help to keep the mindset that this is less of a punishment and more of a rehabilitation; hopefully, this trend will continue to spread.

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Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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