Saturday, July 30, 2011

Prison Life

That fellow Breivik who murdered 96 innocent civilians in cold blood in Norway is set for a comfortable and luxurious stay at Haiden Fengsel prison. Haiden boasts of jogging trails, plush kitchen, flat screen TVs, fridges, recording studio and rock climbing. The guards dont carry guns and the prisoners are not forced to work. They want to create a 'sense of family'.

Haiden is not alone, there are few others prisons around the globe which boast of good life and plush stay. Why that far? I watched a documentary few days ago on NGC about Bangalore central prison. The criminals keep coming back because of the good food and the fun. The daily meal is from ISKCON - tasty and healthy. Fun is salsa classes, music and such activities.

:-/ I also came across a tweet after the 13/7 Mumbai blasts that said "Dear Government, please give protection against terrorists the way you are protecting Kasab".Coming to think of this; it seems life in a prison is safe and punishment could indeed be a pleasure.

Well, my thoughts are about prison today :) Channels like NGC and Discovery give you a glimpse of prisons in their documentaries. American prisons - they prefer to call it 'correctional facility' and the prisoners as 'inmates'.  I always thought usage of such mellowed verbs helps instead of  strong words like 'prisons' and 'criminals'. It shows that even criminals are treated with respect and are not isolated from the society; they are not denied their basic rights and are treated with humanity. A clean facility, basic needs are catered to; they can read, watch TV, have access to healthy food. Well, one doesnt know what happens behind the scenes.

Visited the Alcatraz last year. Didnt write about it then. The island located in the San Francisco bay area 1.5 miles offshore from San Francisco. Its referred as "The Rock"; often featured in many movies. Remember the movie The Rock?

Its told that no one escaped from this high security prison. Even if they managed to get out of the complex, the chilly and strong Pacific ocean currents would make it impossible for them to swim ashore alive.

Here are few pictures.

Main building - "Indians Welcome" makes you happy; until you realize this was the result of native American occupation of the island in 1969.

The watch tower. 

With such a gorgeous view; the guards would sure have enjoyed their job. 

But  the soldier's life seemed to be tough.

Here is where the inmates picked their clothes and shoes. 

Toothpaste and other cosmetics.

Row of showers.

A cell

A closer look

Breakfast Menu...Yummmm

High security cell for more dangerous convicts

 Decks of cells.

2x5 life

Control room

The Social Hall destroyed by fire during the Native American occupation

Water tank

View of San Francisco and the Golden Gate

The statistics

Scary eh?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. When I saw the title of the post, I was a bit shocked,thought for a moment perhaps B has written something on her life in prison, something about her she has not told ~!!!! ha!!

    The prisons in India which you mentioned may be an aberrational exception. As in most third world countries the plight is abhorring. It was a few years ago that the now retired cop Kiran Bedi initiated concrete measures to alleviate the pathetic and uncivilized conditions in Tihar Jail. She was ridiculed and abused by many.Her proposals to consider convicts as not cases that are lost for society and help them come back into mainstream of life as law abiding citizens, was shot down and heckled. That is the state of the Indian society and psyche.

    Correctional centers , penitentiaries etc as they call in the USA ,I do not know if they must be taken at the face value as shown in NG or Discovery. Remember the USA is one of the countries consistently indicted by the Amnesty International and many other NGO watchdogs for trampling , abuse and disregard for civil rights ,liberties and violation of human rights.

    In Nordic countries the national wealth is measured on a grading scale of nett national happiness.( in Bhutan they do that and have been encouraging with results). Theft, rape, sleaze etc as known elsewhere are uncommon in those countries, who also boast one of the highest per-capita and quality of life. So any convict who is fortunate enough to be in the prisons of Norway, Sweden, Finland , etc are the lucky ones among all prisoners around the world.

    In India one has to be somebody like a A. Raja, a Kannilmozhi, a Kalmadi or in Kerala a Balakrishna Pillai to be an elite VVIP prisoner in the five star annexes of the rat holes we call prisons in India.

  3. I remember seeing these pics :) I do not believe in giving all the criminals "good" treatment - by this I mean that give them clean prisons, but let them cook their own food, make them work - which happens in India when someone has been awarded rigorous imprisonment! Let them clean their own places. Make this compulsory! Providing luxuries to them does not make you human and not providing them doesn't mean you ain't human!

    These are my views purely!

  4. Super Insignia. Finally, you wrote a post on Alcatraz Prison.

    “Break the rules and you go to prison, break the prison rules and you go to Alcatraz”. I think some of the criminals should be sent to prison like this.

    Remember Clint Eastwood movie, Escape from Alcatraz. The movie ends with the hint that 2 prisoners really escaped.

  5. There is one thing that I've been wondering about recently. There is a substantial workforce of physically fit people in our prisons. In some prisons they do have some productive activity. But I thought why these people should not be used for say, afforestation of waste lands or farming in the abandoned farmlands. They could be paid reasonable wages. And I am sure that bringing these social deviants into a closer contact with nature can make marked behavioural shifts.

    I'd love to see Raja and Kalmadi and Kanimozhi standing shoulder to shoulder and singing, standing in knee deep slush in paddy fields!

    Btw, as a young 'zamindar' in my youth, I loved to supervise the paddy harvest in Mavelikkara! ;-)

  6. Treating the inmates well is good as long as the facilities given to them doesn't effect the purpose of imprisonment which is deterrence ,punishment and social reform.
    Thanks for sharing these pictures and lol on 'Indians Welcome'.
    BTW i do remember some bollywood movies where heroes purposely commited small crimes to enjoy free food in jail.

  7. I heard from my dad that policemen think more than once before they raise their hands on a prisoner. Human right issues, you see.

    Prison in India surely sounds fun. Kalmadi must be enjoying too.

  8. It is a difficult issue to tackle. We, the People from outside definitely boil when they hear the cases of criminals who are accused of heinous crimes leading a reasonably good life on the taxpayer's money. Probably their life is better than those of the slums in India or than those of people who are well below poverty line. I would say, first make the life of each and every one in the country worth living and then think about improving the conditions in prison.

    But, there definitely should be a difference in the treatment of different kind of prisoners, say hard core incorrigible ones and those who do have a chance of improving themselves. But as I said, it is difficult to draw a line between them.


  9. never seen a prison so close!

    no wonder people enjoy their life there.

    Guess its one of the vacation place for all high profile people.Rest in there, learn new crafts or arts and come back with a bang! ;)

  10. Ah..the Alcatraz ! Whatay place with such a natural boundary !

  11. Nice pics of Alcatraz! Have you been to Kalapani too?

  12. I dont believe in luxury prisons.Prisoners do not deserve luxury.I also believe in uniformity in prisons.Why should a politician who has stolen millions from public funds be given any better treatment than a poor coconut thief? I think they all should be given the same underwear and stripe shirts and made to work for food.
    The prisoner Balakrishna Pillai is sitting at home and the CM has gone to meet him today ! What a weird justice!

  13. After reading your post, my imagination took me to our 'mental prisons and mental imprisonment> Need to break these walls.'

  14. anil,

    Haha :-)

    Anil, I have the same doubts. I am not sure if one must go by what they show on TV. But the amenities in their prison seems to be much better than what they provide in India - hygiene and other factors considered.

    Yeah, out of those few of those plush prisons, majority are in European countries - Spain, Austria, Norway....

    I hope you have read Karunanidhi complaining that Kanimozhi is sick after being lodged in Tihar - due to lack of fan and thus she has boils all over. If that man thought about every other human being the same way as his daughter!!


    Yeah, these are a year old. I agree with you. Clean and hygienic treatment is a must but not luxury. But few folks are lucky.


    Yes, 2 prisoners escaped is what they say, but no one knows if they were alive.


    Thats a great thought. Convicts get to complete their college, work in prison industries and such.

    :-P I know what your thoughts are - supervising Kanimozhi and Raja while they are harvesting paddy in Mavelikkara :-P


    You said it right kavita.

    Yup, free food and nice life enciurages petty crime


    Thats great to hear. Yeah, the Kalmadis and the Rajas and others are having nice life.


    I agree with you. Its innate human nature to feel frustrated at the level of security in our country.

    Welcome to B Log and thanks for your comments.


    Yup! This was also my first ever prison experience :)


    Yeah!! Beautiful landscape, lovely view for a prison :)


    Thanks. No Rachna, I have not been in Andaman yet


    Yup! they are criminals and they must be treated same. But will it happen? We can just dream


    Welcome to B Log

    Yup, reforms needed sir

    Thanks for your comments.

  15. After seeing these prisons, I want to commit a crime now and go to least won't hang in trains and go to work to earn my bread.

    Alright i was kidding :P

  16. Just saw in TV, a movie made in Pakistan, Ramchand Pakistani. They say it was adapted from actual events. An 8 year old Hindu boy, living in a Pakistani village crosses into the Indian border by mistake. His father also crosses the border in search of his son. They both were captured by the Indian Army and put in jail for several years before they are released. The boy was also held in prison with adults. The movie depicts the worst prison conditions in India. But of course, since this was a Pakistani movie, we have to give huge discount.

  17. did they allow you take pics. Does that not come under security rules?

  18. B, I guess that with the comments that is being posted on your blog, you have every chance to be the "Sherief" of B'lore.

    One more observation from my side, Incarceration of a convicted person should not be based on the archaic dictum of "eye for an eye".

  19. @anil,

    Insignia is "Sherief" of B'lore? I know her for a looong time. She cannot even hurt a fly. No chance.

  20. There was only one person, Ms kiran Bedi,who worked hard a Tihar Jail and made some outstanding changes.
    But, as always, she got into the political mess and couldn't go beyond Tihar.

  21. Had heard about alcatraz , though was in SFO for a short visit I happened to miss this attraction cos of my last minute plans on the visit. Nice to get to know more about the prison with such detailed pictures..

    Crime for luxury - I dont mind:) :)

  22. G3,



    Yup, they might have exaggerated


    Its not a functioning prison anymore. They have made it as tourist attraction. You get audio tours around the prison :)


    :-) Haha I am weak hearted to handle culprits Anil.

    Chowla sir,

    Yup! They clipped her wings


    Oh if it were me, I would specially recommend Alcatraz for a visit Ashwini. There are lotta good places around in the Bay area. Next time you visiting? give me a buzz, will give you places. Having visited few times; I am familiar with that part quite a bit

  23. Put a bird in golden cage. Do you think the bird will be happy?

    Prison is a prison.

    Nice description of Alcatraz.

  24. Well if someone has done a crime then why are we afraid to put him/her/them in prison, they deserve it and I am sick and tired of this that they need to get proper facilities .. to me If one has done a crime they have lost the right to there fundamental rights SIMPLE.

    What makes me more mad is the so called do gooders.. these days prisons are more of a Hotel service, I got npo sympathies for the prisioners or criminals ..

    And alcatraz wow, Have you seen the movie Escape from Alcatraz.. clint eastwood.. The too showed the ways of the prison in great details ...

    lovely pics :)


  25. Bikram,

    Yes, they are lucky few.

    Yes, I have watched the movie. :)


I'd love to know what you thought :-) Please shoot!