10 Largest Prisons in the World

In this article, we will discuss the 10 Largest Prisons in the World. You can skip our industry overview and go directly to the 5 Largest Prisons in the World.

The prison industry refers to the set of businesses, operations, and economic activities that are related to the management, construction, and financing of prisons. Owing to popular Netflix shows like "Orange is the New Black" and "Inside the World's Toughest Prisons," the general public has developed a great deal of interest in prisons.

The prison industry operates very much like other industries in the overall economy of a country and encompasses private prison management companies, which operate prisons on behalf of government agencies and are paid for their services through government contracts. Additionally, some prisons offer work programs for inmates, allowing them to produce goods and provide services to outside customers. Moreover, according to The Guardian, several private businesses in the US are generating billions of dollars of profit by being associated with prisons. From supplying doctors and nurses to jail inmates to providing necessary medical toolkits, the healthcare industry is benefitting from the existence of prisons. Not to forget, telecommunications companies also generate high-profit margins by providing call service in prison facilities by charging as high as $25 for a 15-minute call.

Additionally, some private prison companies in the US and Europe utilize prison labor for manual, labor-intensive work such as crop harvesting, packaging, and cloth manufacturing. Some prison stocks are traded on a stock exchange, including CoreCivic, Inc. (NYSE:CXW), which is focused on detention management, Serco Group plc (OTC:SECCF) provides services like transport, defense, health, and justice, and The GEO Group, Inc. (NYSE:GEO) – an investment company, which focuses on mental health and prison properties.

Largest Prisons in the World
Largest Prisons in the World

Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

It may come as a surprise, but many popular companies use prison inmates as employees. Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) uses prison labor mainly to manufacture products, change barcodes, and repackage returned items. The company claims that the prison labor used by the company is voluntary, and they're paid competitive market wages. McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD)'s uses prison labor for processing and packaging frozen items such as beef patties and cleaning and cutting potatoes for their signature fries.

Mass incarceration is the key for prison companies to keep generating revenue and raising profits. Unfortunately, the living conditions inside many of these prisons are not very good. Rikers Island prison has been infamous for inhumane acts. In 2022, 19 inmates reportedly died inside Rikers Island jail facilities. Suicide, untreated medical conditions, violence, and overdosage of drugs were reported as some of the major causes of inmates' deaths.

Our Methodology

To come up with the 10 largest prisons in the world, we have browsed through several websites and have compiled a list of prisons with the highest number of inmates. We have then arranged the prisons in ascending order of the number of inmates.

10 Largest Prisons in the World

10. Metro West Detention Centre

Number of Total Inmates: 7,050

Metro West Detention Centre is a prison located in Miami, Florida, and is operated by the Miami-Dade County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The facility is designed to accommodate a capacity of around 7000 people.

The prison is regarded as a medium-level security prison and mainly houses inmates with low-grade offenses like drunk driving. Inmates at Metro West Detention Centre are provided with various programs and services aimed at helping them reintegrate into society upon release. These programs include educational classes, job training, and substance abuse treatment. Additionally, medical and mental health services are available to inmates as needed.

9. Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility

Number of Total Inmates: 8,811

Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility is a county prison located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is operated by the Philadelphia County. The facility was named after Warden Patrick N. Curran and Deputy Warden Robert F. Fromhold. They were killed on 31st May 1973 at Holmesburg Prison during active-duty hours.

Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility has the capacity to hold over 2,800 inmates and is responsible for providing them with medical care, educational and vocational programming, and other support services.

The facility has four housing buildings and an administrative building. Division in each housing building is such that there are eight pods with 32 cells. Each cell has its own common area, both indoor and outdoor recreational centers, a library, and medical unit access.

8. The Maricopa County Jail

Number of Total Inmates: 9,265

Founded in 1871, The Maricopa County Jail is situated in Phoenix, Arizona, and is managed by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

With an ideal capacity of around 9200 inmates, the jail is responsible for the booking, processing, and housing of individuals who have been arrested in Maricopa County and are awaiting trial or sentencing. The inmates in the jail are grouped according to their level of security, mental health, and addiction level.

A historical protest took place in 2017 inside the facilities when the inmates raised their voices against bland food served in their food mess. However, prison regulations clearly state how prison food cannot be seasoned to adhere to all religious practices.

7. The Harris County Jail

Number of Total Inmates: 10,044

The Harris County Jail was opened in the late 1920s in Texas. It is the largest jail in Texas and one of the largest in the United States, with a capacity to hold over 10,000 inmates.

The jail is responsible for the booking, processing, and housing of individuals who have been arrested in Harris County and are awaiting trial or sentencing. Moreover, the jail has the largest mental health care facility in Texas, as most of the incoming inmates suffer from serious mental health problems. However, the facility is the worst place as the death rate of inmates reported keeps rising. In 2022, 27 people died owing to overcrowding, poor medical treatments, and assault.

6. Rikers Island

Number of Total Inmates: 13,849

Founded in 1932, Rikers Island is a jail complex located in the East River near New York City. The complex consists of ten jails and is designed to house around 10,000 inmates, but it often holds more due to overcrowding.

As discussed in the introduction, the Rikers Island jail complex is infamous, with reports of widespread violence, corruption, and inadequate medical care. However, efforts to close the facility and improve conditions for prisoners are ongoing, and many advocates hope that the city will eventually be able to replace Rikers Island with a more humane and effective system of justice. In 2019, the New York City Council voted to close the jail complex by 2026 and replace it with smaller, community-based jails.

Click to continue reading and 5 Largest Prisons in the World.

Suggested Articles:

Disclosure: None. 10 Largest Prisons in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.