The Top 4 Worst Prisons in America

San Quentin State PrisonAll prisons are terrible places to be. There are some prisons, however, that trump all the rest. Places where inmates are stabbed and beaten on a daily basis. Places where prisoners have no human contact and are only allowed to leave their cells for minutes each day. These are the worst prisons in America.

4) Maricopa County, Tent City – Phoenix, Arizona
Built with old Korean War materials, Tent City was created as a thrifty expansion to the Maricopa County Jail in 1993. The tent prison holds roughly 2,000 inmates. It may seem like a welcome change from the cramped confines of a cell, but the intense Arizona heat causes the tents to reach maximums of 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Prisoners are allowed to de-robe to their underwear, but everyone is required by the warden to wear pink undergarments.

3) Rikers Island Prison – Rikers Island, New York
Rikers is notorious for prisoner violence, with many inmates claiming it to be much worse than the most hazardous New York streets. As the name suggests, Rikers is built on an island, and is essentially impenetrable. Back in the 1990s, this prison was a hotbed for stabbings, beatings, and murders. Due to recent reforms, Rikers has adopted much stricter policies. SWAT teams quell riots and search cells for makeshift shanks on a daily basis. Many prisoners feel the need to defend themselves, but if they are found with a weapon, their sentence is extended.

2) San Quentin Prison – San Quentin, California
San Quentin is a harsh and constantly dangerous place because it holds California’s most violent offenders. This prison has many claims to fame. Charles Manson once called it home, Johnny Cash played a famous concert there in 1969, and it is the birthplace of the Aryan Brotherhood gang. San Quentin employs an enormous staff of over 1,500 in order to maintain control over the vicious prisoners.

1) ADX Florence Supermax Facility – Florence, Colorado
In 1963, ADX was built to replace the infamous Alcatraz Prison, and in many ways it’s even worse than its predecessor. This prison is based on isolation and seclusion. Prisoners are only allowed out of their 100% concrete cells for nine hours each week. There are also intentionally limited amounts of sunlight and almost no human interaction. ADX is a prison that breaks inmates down mentally rather than physically.

If you are facing serious charges that could land you in prison, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney who can help you through the legal maze and keep you out of places like these.

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Avery Appelman

Avery Appelman is a criminal defense lawyer and the founder of Appelman Law Firm. While his practice is primarily recognized for its work with DWI and related offenses, he has 16 years of experience working with clients on drug, assault, theft, traffic, criminal sexual conduct, and prostitution charges.


  1. Rusty Correia says

    Did it also mention that our lovely tent city here in Maricopa County has one of the lowest recidivism rates?

  2. admin says

    Interesting, thanks for your comment!

    For those who don’t know, Recidivism is the tendency to relapse into criminal behavior.

  3. Kingirv says

    ADX definitely the worst because of the solitary confinement. It makes people crazy. But worst as in dangerous it will have to be San Quentin just because of gangs such as northerner’s (Latino) AB, blacks, others (Asian,native,islander etc.) southerner’s (Latino) and they interact with each other for drug, gambling etc. And it’s not what gang is the biggest it’s about who has control at the time of the drugs. Cause who has the drug has the money and who has the money has the power. That’s how it is in the Q.

  4. mike mcdonough says

    don’t drop the soap guys!

    number 4 is enough reason for me never to get in trouble -having to wear pink panties sleep in tents haha

  5. Odin333 says

    “…intentionally limited amounts of sunlight…” jeez, that’s sick. Some of the worst incarceration is in county lockups, especially, but not limited to, metro areas, such as CCC (Cook County Correc.). None compare to what Arkansas was before Texas took it over and Angola, which has cleaned up, but still bad. For all their bad reputation, Max units (such as Alcatraz) are actually safer for a lot of prisoners. Getting raped doesn’t do much more for peace of mind than isolation.

  6. john says

    Rikers island in the early 90s was a horrifying place to be incarcerated.
    I had the misfortune to spend 9 months there in Bldg c 95 in the first week
    I saw 3 stabbings 1 rape ,1 murder(over telephone time) a group of guys pour boiling bottles of baby oil on someone’s body (again over phone time)
    Also an inmate with a 25 automatic handgun.
    While incarcerated there there was a riot over religion and other factors where over fifty correction officers from my knowledge were sent to the hospital,fortunately I had been out to court at the time considering it was my dorm ..RIKERS TAKES THE PRIZE ..PLUS HAVING THE EXHUAST AND NOISE FROM AIRLINE JETS BLOWING INTO YOUR WINDOWS from la guardia airport so low

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