20 Most Dangerous Prisons in America

At JailGuide, we often get questions about prison and some stick out. Like the question from a reader who is headed to a state prison facility and wanted to know if the prison was dangerous. So we decided to put together a list after chatting with a few former prison residents. These are just 20 of the most dangerous prisons in America.

As of 2017, America has as roughly 2.3 million people incarcerated in prisons and jails. There are 1719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, and 901 juvenile correctional centers and in addition a number of other holding facilities like military and ICE immigration detention centers.

Serving a prison sentence is not meant to be a holiday, we dig that. While some inmates in (mostly federal BOP facilities) prisons have access to recreational facilities, quality meals and rehabilitation centers which are of a good quality, there are some that are simply cages that warehouse inmates. There are many prisons in which prisoners do suffer from inmate on inmate abuse but also instances of guard assault. Now, we know there is overcrowding, untrained staff (in some private facilities as we’ve read), but there are also old beefs that seem to flow from prison to prison which are usually race related, resulting in quick spats of uncontrolled violence.

Some of these most dangerous prisons are listed below, not necessarily in order, just listed:

  1. Attica Correctional Facility: This facility is often used to house inmates who have been removed from other facilities due to problems with discipline. It holds some of the most dangerous prisoners in the world. It is famous for the riot held in 1971 that resulted in 39 inmates killed including 10 civilians.
    MAP Location: 639 Exchange Street Rd, Attica, NY 14011
  2. Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary: This is an all male prison and houses prisoners from the Federal Courts. The Prison is known for its repressive conditions.
    MAP Location: 1300 Metropolitan Ave, Leavenworth, KS 66048
  3. Allan B. Polunsky Unit: This prison has all solitary units. They house prisoners under very strict death row conditions. Inmates are only allowed to be out of their cells for 2 hours per day.
    MAP Location: 3872 FM 350, Livingston, TX 77351
  4. USP Florence: This must be considered one of the most dangerous prisons. The reason being, that it was specially built to house prisoners who have killed other inmates or prison officers in other prisons. There have however been many reports of cruel and unusual punishment.
    MAP Location: 5880 CO-67, Florence, CO 81226
  5. Rikers Island Correctional Center: This famous facility has a reputation for violence between prisoners and guards. At one time it was called “Gladiator School”. This is more of a county jail than a full-time prison. Most inmates are at Rikers jail awaiting trial, some are even waiting for bail.
    MAP Location: 1616 Hazen St, East Elmhurst, NY 11370
  6. Holman Correctional Facility: In March 2016 prisoners rioted after an officer was stabbed whilst breaking up a fight. The inmates used social media to record their actions .The governor of Alabama stated that with this prison being at 156 percent capacity more riots may be expected.
    MAP Location: 1240 Ross Rd, Atmore, AL 36502
  7. Idaho State Correctional Center: This facility records many incidents of gang violence. It has the nickname of the “Slaughterhouse”
    MAP Location: 14601 Pleasant Valley Rd, Kuna, ID 83634
  8. Julia Tutwiler Prison: This is an all female prison which has a long history of sexual abuse with many of the prisoners becoming pregnant by male guards
    MAP Location: 8966 US-231, Wetumpka, AL 36092
  9. California State Prison: Corcoran: In 1996 this prison was declared the most dangerous of all state prisons. Its reputation today still stands. It has many notable violent history prisoners with prison a history of prison staff abuse.
    MAP Location: 4001 King Ave, Corcoran, CA 93212
  10. Sing Sing Correctional Facility: A third of the prisoners here are serving time for murder. This in its self allows it to be labeled as one of the most dangerous prisons.
    MAP Location: 354 Hunter St, Ossining, NY 10562
  11. Pelican Bay State Prison: This state prison has many problems stemming from gang activity. Its inmates are heads of drug cartels. Attacks are frequent on staff members and even prosecutors. It’s the only supermax state prison in California. The 275 acre prison is located in Del Norte County, California and houses up to 3319 inmates. The prison takes its name from a shallow bay on the Pacific coast, about 2 miles to the west.
    MAP Location: 5905 Lake Earl Dr, Crescent City, CA 95532
  12. Louisiana State Penitentiary: This state prison is known as the Alcatraz of the South. It is one of the largest maximum prisons with over 5000 inmates. It is known for widespread violence and abuse.
    MAP Location: 17544 Tunica Trace, St Francisville, LA 70775

  13. Penitentiary of New Mexico: This state prison is famous for its riots in the 1980’s. Today it is still considered a dangerous prison.
    MAP Location: 4311 State Road 14, Santa Fe, NM 87504

In addition to the above prisons others that are worthy of a mention in the dangerous category are:

  • Cook County Jail:
    MAP Location: 2700 S California Ave, Chicago, IL 60608
  • San Quentin State Prison:
    MAP Location: San Quentin, CA 94964
  • Mens Central Jail:
    MAP Location: 441 Bauchet St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
  • Arizona State Prison:
    MAP Location: 10000 South Wilmot, Tucson, AZ 85734
  • United States Penitentiary Marion:
    MAP Location: 4500 Prison Rd, Marion, IL 62959
  • Folsom State Prison:
    MAP Location: 300 Prison Rd, Represa, CA 95671
  • Stateville Correctional:
    MAP Location: 16830 IL-53, Crest Hill, IL 60403

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