The 7 Worst Prisons in the State of California (2023)

Like other larger states in the United States of America,California also has a reputation for having the worst prisons for a number of reasons.from gang violence to poor living conditions.

California state prisons are operated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), whose 2022 budget has been cut from $15.8 billion to $13.3 billion. Of course, the budget cuts do not help the CDCR to do its job with more discipline and professionalism, but rather test its operational capabilities.

What makes a prison in the state of California worse?

California prisons have a bad reputation in the United States for the following reasons:

  • overfilled:Prisons are overcrowded with inmates due to the unavailability of other state prisons.
  • departmental corruption: Funds intended for the rehabilitation of prisoners are used elsewhere, which does not benefit the rehabilitation of criminals, on the contrary, worsens their life expectancy.
  • lack of programs: With overcrowded California prisons, it is becoming increasingly difficult for all inmates to complete the necessary and state-required education.
  • group violence:there is not much CDCR control and gang violence in California prisons is common.
  • Drugs:Inmates are supposed to be drug-free, but California prisons have earned a reputation for being overrun with drugs, often resulting in inmates dying of overdoses.
  • unhealthy states: Just like any other facility, a prison requires unrestricted maintenance to keep internal conditions safe and sound, which unfortunately California prisons cannot afford.

What are the top 7 prisons in the state of California?

The following are the top 10 prisons in the state of California:

1. Pelican Bay State Penitentiary:

Number 1 on our list is the Pelican Bay State Prison. The prison has an extremely poor reputation, which has been enhanced by several lawsuits filed by ex-convicts in recent years. But the cause still seems to be there.

(Video) 11 Most Dangerous Prisons In The World

The prison has a capacity of 2,380. After several lawsuits over overcrowding, the CDCR reduced the number of inmates it could house for the first time since the facility's creation. Because of this, there are currently more than2.112inmates As a maximum security facility, the prison is famous for housing and executing some of America's most notorious criminals.

In the early stages of the facility, guards were accused of beating inmates to death, making them fight their enemies, failing to rein in excessive drug use, and allowing prison gangs to spring up to beat up weak inmates.

Things changed after the arrest in 2013.hunger strikebut they are certainly not in their ideal situation, and perhaps not any time soon.

2. San Quintin State Penitentiary:

The North San Francisco prison is one of the oldest in California, having opened during the Gold Rush era, which brought many criminals to the state. It was inaugurated in 1852 and the prison is full of controversy since it is 170 years old.

(Video) Top 10 worst prisons in the United States. California has 3, New York has 2

Although the prison has been featured in numerous movies, videos, podcasts, and television shows, that does not mean that the conditions in the prison are good. Despite the numerous programs for its residents, this still does not seem to be enough for their rehabilitation.

The prison is notorious where inmates are brutally treated by guards, denied access to basic necessities, and overcrowding is a major problem among many others. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the prison saw12 pocketof prisoners in just two months. It has been reported that detainees, particularly the elderly, have been repeatedly denied access to much-needed medical care.

3. California Medical Center:

Located in Vacaville, Solano County, California, CMF is a state medical prison for men. His security class is divided into three levels: Level 1 is an open bedroom, and Level 3 is a heavily guarded medical facility.

What makes this largest prison medical center in California so much worse is that the prison isoverfilled, which causes many accidents and lack of attention to those in need. This is also one of the reasons why the guards use excessive force to prove their dominance. Corruption has also been reported at this facility, resulting in medication and other care equipment not being delivered to inmates who needed it.

(Video) California's Most Dangerous Maximum Security Prison

Many ex-convicts have denounced the poor medical care they have received and considering that this is the best medical care an inmate can receive; That only makes things worse.

4. Kern Valley State Penitentiary:

Delano, California prison is an extremely overcrowded maximum security prison. According to 2020 statistics, the prison is around 144.4% full.

Due to overcrowding, several tragic incidents occur where the guards have little to no control over the prison. Gang violence is rampant. The inhumane housing of the prisoners has led several to commit suicide, while others suffer from health and mental health problems.

Otherprisonersreported lack of cooperation from guards when prisoners were subjected to violence, trauma, and abuse. Anyone who dares to file an official complaint must face the consequences.

(Video) Worst California State Prisons

5. California State Penitentiary, Corcoran

The men-only facility is located in Kings County, California. It's a minimal to maximal facility, which means there are facilities ranging from open dormitories to locked cells.

The prison is not only overcrowded, but is home to a controversial Secure Housing Unit (SHU) and inmates have been reported to want guards there, regardless of whether or not they have committed a crime.conditionsin SHU cells they are among the worst imaginable, causing severe trauma after serving there.

6. California State Penitentiary, Solano:

The Solano California State Penitentiary, while a mid-level security prison, is plagued with as much controversy as possible. Like other California state prisons, Solano is overcrowded beyond capacity.

Solano's problems are very similar to those of other overcrowded prisons in California, such asmurders, gang violence, use of excessive force and drug overdose. There is also a significant hygiene problem in prisons, as a result of which inmates are often denied access to basic facilities such as showers and education.

(Video) California's Toughest Prisons

7. Folsom State Penitentiary in California:

A low to medium security prison for men and women, Folsom State Prison has been controversial since it opened in 1880. The men's section of Folsom State Prison has also been overcrowded and marked by violence since its inception, in the CDCR guards have also been attacked.

Additionally, there have been numerous prison breaks; the last one was in 2017. Because of this, the security in the prison is extremely tight and in order to exert dominance, the guards of this prison have been known to use excessive force, which they believe is the only way to be law and to enforce the order. 2012 at least10 inmatesthey were brutally stabbed by other gang members and one was shot and killed.

In addition, the prison is plagued with cases of drug overdoses and inadequate medical, health and nutritional facilities, all of which only add to the agony of the inmates.

Read about the worst prisons in other US states:

  • 11 Worst Prisons in the US With High Crime Rates
  • 9 Worst Prisons in the State of Delaware
  • The 9 Worst Arkansas State Prisons
  • The 5 Worst Prisons in the State of Colorado
  • The 7 Worst Prisons in the State of North Carolina
  • The 7 Worst Prisons in the State of Pennsylvania
  • 7 Worst Prisons in the State of Ohio
  • The 7 Worst Prisons in New York State


What are the safest prisons in California? ›

High Security Institutions
  • California State Prison, Corcoran.
  • California State Prison, Los Angeles County.
  • California State Prison, Sacramento.
  • High Desert State Prison.
  • Kern Valley State Prison.
  • Pelican Bay State Prison.
  • Salinas Valley State Prison.
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison at Corcoran.

What are level 1 prisons in California? ›

Level 1 prisons are minimum security. Inmates live in dormitories and there may or may not be a perimeter fence. There are no armed guards at a Level 1 facility. Sometimes, Level 1 prisons are called 'camps', as they often look more like the summer camp facilities we may have been to as a child rather than prisons.

What are the levels of prisons in California? ›


(1) An inmate with a placement score of 0 through 18 shall be placed in a Level I facility. (2) An inmate with a placement score of 19 through 35 shall be placed in a Level II facility. (3) An inmate with a placement score of 36 through 59 shall be placed in a Level III facility.

What are the three most violent prisons? ›

The Most Violent Prisons in the World ~TOP 1O~
  • San Quentin Prison (California) San Quentin Prison was established in 1852 and is the oldest prison in the state of California. ...
  • Rikers Island Prison (NY) ...
  • ADX-Florence Supermax Facility(Colorado) ...
  • La Sabaneta Prison (Venezuela)

What are the top 5 worst prisons in the US? ›

Check out the list below.
  • United States Penitentiary Marion. Location: Marion, Illinois. ...
  • Rikers Island. Location: Queens, New York. ...
  • Louisiana State Penitentiary. Location: Angola, Louisiana. ...
  • Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. Location: Leavenworth, Kansas. ...
  • Folsom State Prison. ...
  • Attica Correctional Facility.

What 3 prisons are closing in California? ›

Additional deactivations
  • Folsom Women's Facility (expected deactivation January 2023)
  • West Facility in California Men's Colony (expected deactivation winter 2023)
  • Facility C in Pelican Bay State Prison (expected deactivation winter 2023)
  • Facility A in California Rehabilitation Center (expected deactivation spring 2023)
Dec 12, 2022

What is the largest jail in California? ›

Welcome to Twin Towers! The Twin Towers Correctional Facility, also referred to in the media as Twin Towers Jail, is a complex erected in Los Angeles, California. It is the world's largest jail as well as the nation's largest mental health facility.

How many level 4 prisons are in California? ›

The five prisons designated for 270 degree Level IV housing are Calipatria, Centinela, Corcoran, Lancaster and Mule Creek.

What time do prisoners go to bed? ›

At 9 PM, inmates return to their housing area and are allowed to watch television, play checkers, chess, cards or write letters. At 11 PM, the inmate is locked into his cell and the lights are dimmed for the night. In medium security prisons, most inmates remain in the prison 24 hours a day.

What are the 4 types of prisons? ›

Facilities are designated as either minimum, low, medium, high, or administrative; and facilities with different security levels that are in close proximity to each other are known as prison complexes. Learn more about each prison type below.

What are Level 5 prisoners? ›

5. Administrative. This special class of prison encompasses other types of institutions designed to house inmates with special considerations, such as those who are chronically ill, extremely dangerous or a high-escape risk.

What is the highest level of inmate? ›

Administrative Maximum Facility Florence (ADX Florence) is the highest-security federal prison in the United States. The facility is classified as a supermax prison. It houses inmates deemed to require the highest level of control and supervision.

How long do prisoners stay in their cells? ›

Solitary confinement goes by many names, including “special housing units,” “administrative segregation,” “disciplinary segregation,” and “restrictive housing,” but the conditions are generally the same: 22 to 24 hours per day spent alone in a small cell.

What are Category C prisons like? ›

Cat C – Prisoners who cannot be trusted in open conditions but who have neither the resources nor the will to make a determined escape attempt. Cat D – Prisoners who present a low risk, can be reasonably trusted in open conditions and for whom open conditions are appropriate.

Which prisons are the best? ›

To give you an idea of the best minimum-security federal prisons, consider the list below:
  • FPC Alderson. ...
  • FPC Montgomery. ...
  • FPC Bryan. ...
  • FCI Coleman Low. ...
  • FCI Safford. ...
  • FCI Waseca. ...
  • FCI Englewood. ...
  • FCI Seagoville.
Aug 6, 2022

What is America's toughest jail? ›

ADX-Florence Supermax Facility, USA

ADX-Florence Supermax Facility is located in Colorado and is known for holding some of the worst criminals in history in custody, therefore earning the reputation of being one of America's toughest prisons.

What is the most secure jail? ›

Most secure prison in the world
  • Guantanamo Bay detention camp. ...
  • Black Dolphin prison. ...
  • Qincheng detention centre (aka The Tigers cage) ...
  • Arthur Road Jail, India. ...
  • Fuchū prison. ...
  • Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, United States. ...
  • Cayenne prison. ...
  • ADX Florence.
Aug 18, 2022

What are the top 3 most violent prisons in America? ›

15 most dangerous prisons in the US
  1. United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility. ...
  2. Twin Towers Correctional Facility. ...
  3. Holman Correctional Facility. ...
  4. United States Penitentiary Beaumont. ...
  5. San Quentin State Prison. ...
  6. Orleans Parish Prison. ...
  7. Penitentiary Of New Mexico. ...
  8. Louisiana State Penitentiary.
Jul 9, 2022

What states have the safest prisons? ›

The efficiency of a state's corrections system shows how a state handles crime and public safety. Hawaii ranks first in the nation for corrections. New Hampshire places second in this subcategory, followed by Vermont, Utah and Maine. Learn more about the Best States for corrections below.

Who is the most heavily guarded prisoner of all time? ›

Thomas Silverstein
Thomas Edward Silverstein
BornFebruary 4, 1952 Long Beach, California, U.S.
DiedMay 11, 2019 (aged 67) Lakewood, Colorado, U.S.
Other namesTerrible Tom, Tommy
Known forFormer leader of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang
9 more rows

What is the most famous prisons in California? ›

San Quentin State Prison is California's oldest correctional institution. It was built in July 1852 on the site known as Point San Quentin, Marin County.

What California prisons are being shut down? ›

In addition, the department said, during 2023 it plans to close the women's section of Folsom State Prison in Sacramento County and parts of the prisons at Pelican Bay (Del Norte County), the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco (Riverside County), the California ...

What 5 prisons are closing in California? ›

California prison officials will be deactivating certain facilities at Folsom Women's Facility; in Pelican Bay State Prison; at California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo; California Rehabilitation Center in Riverside County; at California Institution for Men in San Bernardino County; and at California Correctional ...

Who is the longest inmate? ›

Paul Geidel Jr.

Hartford, Connecticut, U.S. Beacon, New York, U.S. After being convicted of second-degree murder in 1911 at age 17, Geidel served 68 years and 296 days in various New York state prisons.

What is the longest year in jail? ›

Prisoners sentenced to 1,000 years or more in prison
NameSentence startSentence term
Allan Wayne McLaurin199420,750 years
Pudit Kittithradilok201713,275 years
Darron Bennalford Anderson199411,250 years
Adnan Oktar20228,658 years
54 more rows

How many lifers are in California prisons? ›

In California's state prisons, about 33,000 people are serving life sentences, according to this report by the Public Policy Institute of California. Add to this discussion that former lifers have a recidivism rate of about 1%, and the picture becomes even more clear.

What are Category A prisons like? ›

Category A

These are high security prisons. They house male prisoners who, if they were to escape, pose the most threat to the public, the police or national security.

How long do prisoners get to shower? ›

Many of us have wondered whether it would affect what little access we have to water for personal cleanliness in our overcrowded prisons. Prisoners who don't have jobs — including those pursuing GEDs or college degrees — are allowed a five-minute shower on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Do inmates shower everyday? ›

Inmates may shower anytime during out-of-cell time, except during meals or head counts. Inmates in cells may wash their bodies at any time using the cell sink. Inmates must shower or wash their bodies at least twice a week.

How many meals a day do you get in jail? ›

While many TV shows and movies depict American prisoners as eating poor quality food, inmates within the Federal Bureau of Prisons are provided three nutritionally sound meals each day.

What are low security prisons like? ›

Low security Federal Correctional Institutions (FCIs) have double-fenced perimeters, mostly dormitory or cubicle housing, and strong work and program components. The staff-to-inmate ratio in these institutions is higher than at minimum-security facilities.

How many federal prisons are in California? ›

California houses 13 stand-alone federal prisons and eight federal prisons camps. The Western Regional Office oversees each of these California federal prisons. In total, 11,235 inmates are housed inside federal prisons in California.

What kind of criminals go to minimum security prisons? ›

Minimum security prisons are usually reserved for white collar criminals who have committed acts such as embezzlement or fraud. Although these are serious crimes, they are non-violent in nature and therefore the perpetrators are not considered to be a risk for violence.

What is a Level 4 jail? ›

What is a level 4 prison? Levels 3 and 4 are considered maximum security prisons. A maximum-security prison typically houses incarcerated persons with long sentences or transferees who have serious disciplinary issues.

What are the three types of prisoners? ›

1. Those undergoing investigation; 2. those awaiting or undergoing trial; and 3. those awaiting final judgment.

Who are the prisoners in Level 6? ›

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What does Max mean in jail? ›

Maximum security prisons and supermax prisons are grades of high security level used by prison systems in various countries, which pose a higher level of security to prevent prisoners from escaping and/or doing harm to other inmates or security guards.

How long do inmates stay in the hole for fighting? ›

Disturbingly, modern solitary confinement does not differ much from the days of Dr. Rush's study. In modern prisons, solitary confinement still holds some prisoners for 23 to 24 hours a day, especially in supermax prisons. Prisoners can be in solitary confinement for weeks, months, or even years at a time.

What are the top 3 correctional States? ›

Ask students to identify the “Top Three” states in American corrections (Texas, Florida, and California).

What does 23 and 1 mean in jail? ›

It's called “23 and 1” because you spend 23 hours alone in your cell, with one hour to take a shower or make a phone call, if allowed.

Do prisoners have TV in their cell? ›

The rooms house televisions that still have their external speakers, so that inmates who lack personal funds can still watch programming. There are usually one to two TV rooms in each inmate housing unit. Programming is also decided either by majority vote or by the prison's administration.

Do prisoners get condoms? ›

But even though condoms are available inside the jail, Greve says deputies still enforce rules against inmates having sex. "They freak out about it — like, I've seen them catch people in bed together and they're like, 'Hey, what are you doing?!' "

What crimes are Category A? ›

Offences that may result in consideration for Category A or Restricted Status include: , Attempted murder, Manslaughter, Wounding with intent, Rape, Indecent assault, Robbery or conspiracy to rob (with firearms), Firearms offences, Importing or supplying Class A controlled drug, Possessing or supplying explosives, ...

What prisoners are in category A? ›

Category A – Category A prisoners are those that would pose the most threat to the public, the police or national security should they escape. Security conditions in category A prisons are designed to make escape impossible for these prisoners.

When can a prisoner get cat D? ›

The first re-categorisation review for prisoners serving determinate sentences must take place no later than 12 months after sentence. The only exception to this is Category A prisoners, whose first review takes place 2 years after categorisation.

What are the top 10 worst prisons in the world? ›

Following is a list of the top 10 most violent prisons in the world.
  • Rikers Island Prison. ...
  • Alcatraz Island Prison. ...
  • ADX-Florence Supermax Facility. ...
  • La Sante Prison. ...
  • Diyarbakir Prison. ...
  • La Sabaneta Prison. ...
  • Tadmor Prison. ...
  • Carandiru Penitentiary.

Are state or federal prisons worse? ›

Federal prisons are generally safer than state prisons and they keep inmates that are of a less violent and dangerous nature. The main differences between federal prison and state prison are set forth in the table below. Note that prisons (both federal and state) are different from jails.

What are the most violent prisons in America? ›

15 most dangerous prisons in the US
  1. United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility. ...
  2. Twin Towers Correctional Facility. ...
  3. Holman Correctional Facility. ...
  4. United States Penitentiary Beaumont. ...
  5. San Quentin State Prison. ...
  6. Orleans Parish Prison. ...
  7. Penitentiary Of New Mexico. ...
  8. Louisiana State Penitentiary.
Jul 9, 2022

Which jail is the most secure? ›

ADMAX Florence United States Penitentiary, also known as ADX Florence, Florence ADMAX, Supermax, or the Alcatraz of the Rockies, is an administrative maximum-security penitentiary located in Fremont County near Florence, Colorado.

Which US state has the best prisons? ›

New Hampshire is the top state for crime and corrections. It's followed by Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and New Jersey to round out the top five. Four of the 10 states that are best for crime and corrections also rank among the top 10 Best States overall.

Are there secret prisons in the United States? ›

CIA controlled black sites are used by the U.S. government in its War on Terror to detain enemy combatants. US President George W. Bush acknowledged the existence of secret prisons operated by the CIA during a speech on September 6, 2006.

What are most federal prisoners in jail for? ›

As of January 2022, there were 153,079 offenders incarcerated in the Bureau of Prisons. Of these offenders, 134,757 are serving a sentence for a federal conviction, most commonly for drug offenses (N=63,994).

How much time do you serve on a 18 month federal sentence? ›

The rules change with partial years. A sentence of 18 months in federal prison ends before two years, so they can't wait to calculate it.

What is the smallest jail in the US? ›

Lower Lake Stone Jail, in Lower Lake, California, is a one-room jail claimed to be the smallest jail in the United States, was erected in 1876 of stone locally quarried and reinforced with iron.

Who has been in jail the longest? ›

In 1981, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA, Dudley Wayne Kyzer received the longest single sentence of 10,000 years for murdering his wife. He then received a further two life sentences for murdering his mother-in-law and a college student.

What do maximum security prisoners do all day? ›

Inmates in maximum security segregated settings are often placed in solitary confinement. They spend 23 hours a day in an 8- by 12-foot cell and are allowed to go into an exercise cell or enclosure for one hour a day at least five times a week for recreation.

Are there prisons in the ocean? ›

Gizmodo reports that the largest floating prison in the entire world is currently docked off the Bronx in Long Island Sound. The Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center prison is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest operation prison ship in the world.

Who is most likely to be imprisoned? ›

Key findings. Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at nearly 5 times the rate of white Americans. Nationally, one in 81 Black adults in the U.S. is serving time in state prison. Wisconsin leads the nation in Black imprisonment rates; one of every 36 Black Wisconsinites is in prison.


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