The Four Biggest Prisons in the World

The world’s biggest prisons may be the eyesore of society but is also a necessity to keep unruly, corrupt and dangerous people at bay. As the human race multiplies, so does the need for these mega-prisons. Let’s have a look at some of the largest prisons from all over the world.

The Largest prison in the USA is the “Louisiana State Penitentiary”

Picture Source Google.

Quick Facts Louisiana State Penitentiary:

  • Maximum capacity of Inmates : 6 300
  • Number of staff: 1 800
  • Land size : 18,000-acre or  73km²

The Louisiana State Penitentiary is also called “The Farm” “LSP” and Angola. The name Angola is from the country where the slaves were brought in that worked on the farm where the prison now stands.

Grounds and Self-Sustainability

Saying that LSP is a large prison complex is not an understatement. The grounds are so vast that you could fit the entire island of Manhattan in it and have space to spare. There are over 500 hundred buildings on the grounds, and it has a fire station too.

The grounds are mostly for agricultural purposes to feed the prison community, and this was the idea from the start. The original

The grounds are so large there are guards patrolling on horseback.

creators of the prison wanted it to be as self-sustainable as possible. It would reduce the financial strain associated with prison complexes on the taxpayer.

The prison has all manner of workshops to cater to its needs.

Except for the fire station, what else can you find at the “The Farm.”

Cemetery – There are multiple Cemeteries, and if a prisoner is executed or die of other causes and is not claimed by the family within a month, they are now buried at the Point Lookout 2 cemetery.

Guest House – The guesthouse is more of a clubhouse to entertain guests of the prison and is used mainly by the Wardens to interact with other officials.

Angola Museum – The museum is a nonprofit on-site museum which you can peruse without any financial obligation.

Airstrip – Can you believe this prison has an airstrip too?  The runway is used for official prison business only.

Golf course – Now don’t go thinking that the prisoners have a very good time knocking balls around. This course is open to the public, but you have to send your details through in advance so the officials can do a background check.

Inmates maintain the course, but only the ones that have proved they are trustworthy.

Training facilities – There are multiple training facilities on the grounds that focus on the training of correctional officers. One of them is a K-9 unit.

Sports arena

Nature reserve – You guessed it this is the only nature reserve on prison grounds and it is maintained by the prisoners too.

The Largest Prison Complex in Europe is “Fleury-Mérogis Detention Center” in France

Quick Facts Fleury-Mérogis Detention Center:

  • Maximum capacity of Inmates : 3 800
  • Number of staff: Not Available
  • Land size: 444-Acre 4.4 km²

Fleury-Mérogis Detention Center is the biggest prison complex in Europe and house 3 800 prisoners. The interesting thing is that it was designed to hold only 2800 and is vastly overpopulated. The authorities increased the housing capacity by installing bunk beds.

I was not able to dig up much information about the physical characteristics about this prison. But what I know is that it was constructed in a hexagonal shape and the building in now very run down and under maintained.

It has been severely criticized for being a hot-pot for the growth of Islamic radicalism in Europe. It comes as no surprise that such an overcrowded under maintained facility would increase the problems faced with criminality instead of relieving or rehabilitate it.

The prison has large production facilities where parts are built using the labor force. 40% of the inmates work in the manufacturing facilities.

The Largest Prison in Africa is “Polsmoor Maximum Security Prison” in Cape Town, South Africa

Quick Facts Polsmoor Maximum Security Prison:

  • Maximum Capacity: 19 949 prisoners (Actual number of detainees fluctuate around 28 000)
  • Guards: The number of guards is around 560
  • Land Size: not Available

If you search Polsmoor Prison on Google, you will find article after article of overpopulation, horrid living conditions, and crime that is out of control. How can it be that a single prison could be so overpopulated?

The answer lies in the fact that the South African prison system is grossly underfunded and Polsmoor Prison has five sections with one sector, in particular, causing significant overcrowding. The part in question is the Polsmoor Admission Centre.

The Admission Center is a section where prisoners awaiting trial is housed. With the penal system at its wit’s end and more and more people added daily and courts struggling to deal with all the cases it is no wonder the prison faces such adversity.

The other sections the prison are the following:

  1. Medium A – This section is dedicated juveniles between the ages of 14 – 17. This section houses prisoners and people still awaiting trial.
  2. Medium B – Here is where adult males are serving their sentences.
  3. Medium C – This section is for male prisoners sentenced to serve one year or less.
  4. The Female Prison area – Here you will find all the women adult and juvenile awaiting trial and ones convicted.

The Biggest Prison in South-East Asia is Tihar Prison

Image source Google

Quick Facts Tihar Prison:

  • Maximum Capacity: 6250 (Again overpopulation has the numbers up to 14 000)
  • Number of guards: Not Available
  • Land Size:  400 acre 4km²

It seems there are no prisons that are running at maximum capacity and most are overcrowded, even though this is the case with Tihar Prison a lot of work is going into rehabilitation of the prisoners.

Many prisons have factories, but this prison goes one step further, Tihar prison has trademarked goods that are wholly created and package at the prison and sell to the public. You can even order your TJ’s products from their online store.

Here are some of the goods the Tihar Prison factory produce:

  • Shoes
  • Clothing
  • Bread
  • Biscuits
  • Loomed products Machine and hand loomed
  • Chemical products
  • Paper

A quarter of the profits are put into a fund for the victims of the inmates to help make amends for the crimes committed.

The prison implemented video conferencing to help alleviate the high visitor load which saves many of the family member’s time and money.

The prisoners are also encouraged to better themselves through higher education which is accomplished through long distance learning.

Another new addition to the prison is an inmate-run restaurant is open to the public.


Do you know of an even bigger prison that should be featured here leave a comment or send us an email and we will surely add it to our list of the world’s biggest prisons.


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