The 10 Worst Countries for Prison Overcrowding

Haiti's jails are 335.7% full, according to the International Center for Prison Studies, making it the most overcrowded system on the globe

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Miguel Salmeron

Prisons are no picnic, but some countries design their jails to be much nicer than others. In Norway, guards are unarmed and prisoners are given “humane” conditions that offer comparative luxuries like extensive outside stomping grounds and courses to prepare them for life after prison. Meanwhile, in Haiti, which boasts the worst overcrowding in the world, prisoners are rarely given recreational time from their group cells, where each prisoner eats, sleeps and lives in about the space of one-quarter of a twin bed, according to the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Part of the overcrowding might be due to the legal system in the poverty-stricken nation: 80 to 90% of those incarcerated are still waiting for their trials, since bail is not an option, according to Prison Legal News.

Here are the top 10 countries where it’s especially inadvisable to break the law if you’re claustrophobic, according to the International Center for Prison Studies:

1. Haiti: 335.7% occupancy

2. El Salvador: 324.7%

3. Benin: 307.1%

4. Philippines: 300%

5. Venezuela: 270.1%

6. Bolivia: 269.8%

7. Sudan: 255.3%

8. Antigua and Barbuda: 240.7%

9. Uganda: 232.9%

10. Guatemala: 230.9%

Meanwhile, the United States clocks in at just under 100% capacity, safely below the top 100 worst-ranking countries. If California were a country of its own, however, it would rank somewhere in the top 50. The state currently hits around 155% capacity, which would place it in the unenviable company of Colombia, Algeria and Morocco.

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