15 Scariest Female Prisons Where No One Comes Out The Same (2022)

Since the popular TV show Orange is the New Black, interest in female prisons has skyrocketed. Although the show does its best to stay truthful to what goes on behind bars, it is still extremely far from the actual truth. For some reason, people tend to focus on the hardships and terrifying aspects of male prisons, belittling female prisons as an easier ride. However, female prisons are just as horrific and in some cases even worse than your average male jail.

Female prisons are a relatively new concept; women used to be placed in a separate wing of male prison houses. But, as more and more women started getting convicted of as many crimes as their male counterparts, the first women’s prison was finally built in 1869. With the initial target to reform rather than imprison, inmates were tasked with cooking, farming duties and cleaning rather than being locked up in cells and placed in the dark. The eventual goal was to send the women back into society rather than keeping them hidden from the world. After all, back then these women were believed be just raving alcoholics or engaged in a few naughty narcotics, not murderesses or black widows.

These days, women’s prisons are exceptionally different and much the same as the average male prison. Housing the world’s most dangerous criminals, some female prisons have become extremely notorious for being truly terrifying. So to delve in deeper, here are 15 of the scariest female prisons where no one comes out the same.


15. Julia Tutwiler Prison (Alabama, USA)

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Located in the darkest depths of the southern state of Alabama, Julia Tutwiler prison for women was originally known as the Wetumpka State Penitentiary. However, in 1942 the prison was renamed after the renowned prison advocate Julia Tutwiler who campaigned for prison reforms throughout her life. Nicknamed the “Angel of the Stockades”, Tutwiler was a big deal around the prison walls and managed to turn a hell hole into a somewhat OK environment. However, that’s not to say that the prison is a breeze with Tutwiler prison also qualifying as a “maximum security” jail due to its infamous death row. In fact, the prison recently ranked as one of the ten worst prisons in the United States and has also been investigated due to its high amount of officer-on-inmate violence.


14. Grand Valley Institution (Ontario, Canada)

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Located in Kitchener, Ontario, this Canadian prison is the only one of its kind in the whole of Ontario, that’s Canada for you. However, although it may be located in the wondrous environment of good old Canada, it is still scary as hell. In fact, the prison is mostly famed for the death of nineteen-year-old inmate Ashley Smith which caused a gigantic legal inquest and much controversy throughout the world. Known for her unruly behavior Ashley was often moved to a number of different institutions. However, in 2007 Ashley was videotaped strangling herself with a piece of cloth while locked up in one of the notorious Grand Valley solitary cells. Despite being watched by guards it took a further 45 minutes for anyone to intervene. Two documentaries have been made referring to the incident, both of which discuss the prison’s role in her untimely death.

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13. Pollsmoor Prison (Cape Town, South Africa)

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Notorious hellhole Pollsmoor prison is one of the scariest and toughest maximum security prisons in the whole world. Housing both male and female inmates, the prison’s most famous resident was one Nelson Mandela who described Pollsmoor as, “the truth of Oscar Wilde’s haunting line about the tent of blue that prisoners call the sky.” But what of its most famous female inmate? Nicknamed the “the scissor murderess” for reasons you can only imagine, eighteen-year-old Marlene Lehnberg was convicted of stabbing Susanna Magdalena van der Linde, the wife of her 47-year-old lover Christiaan van der Linde. The youngest woman to be convicted of murder in South Africa, Lehnberg was immediately sentenced to death only to have it later reduced to a life sentence. Yikes!


12. Heilongjiang Women’s Prison (Heilongjiang, China)

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Residing in the northern province of Heilongjiang, China, Heilongjiang Women’s Prison is renowned for its tough stance on wayward prisoners. However, the prison was in the news recently when a Chinese woman revealed that she had withstood severe abuse and torture for nearly three years. Said to have received the torture due to her faith, the woman claimed that she was regularly handcuffed from behind, held in isolation and beaten by prison guards and other inmates. The prisoner also claimed that guards were so desperate to make her renounce her faith that they would do so by any means possible. However, that was the least of her worries when it was revealed that the prison had also been investigated for illegal organ harvesting when prisoners complained of having their blood taken from them without consent. Wow.


11. HM Prison Holloway (London, UK)

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Closed for business as recently as 2016, HM Prison Holloway was one of the most famous female prisons in the entire world. The largest in Western Europe, Holloway was also primarily staffed by female officers, making it the first of its kind. The prison was first opened in 1852 and was originally designed for both male and female inmates. However after an increase in female criminals, officials decided to turn it a prison exclusively for women.

Famous for its tough stance on bad behavior and harsh conditions, Holloway was also home to a number of notable criminals. From suffragettes to prisoners of war, Holloway was also home to notorious child killer Myra Hindley. Hindley, who together with her then partner John Brady, killed five children during the late 60s in Manchester, England. The crime caused outrage around the world as well as inside the prison causing several fights and arguments.

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Throughout the years the prison has been subject to a number of songs, movies, and TV shows and has gone on to become something of a strange tourist attraction. Sadly however there have also been a number of suicides with the last one occurring in 2016, only months before its eventual closure.


10. Bandyup Women’s Prison (West Swan, Australia)

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Located in Western Australia near to Perth, Bandyup women’s prison is a maximum security prison for women on remand or sentenced to long periods of time. Originally built to house just 68 women, the prison was quickly renovated to make room for more. However, with overcrowding still a prominent problem within the prison, it was discovered that inmates were sleeping on mattresses on the floor as well as doubling up in beds. Still a major problem, despite the Minister for Corrective Services assuring that they had fixed the overcrowding issues, pictures recently revealed that mattresses were still placed on the floors of the prison with many next to the toilets. In fact, the prison is so limited with space that the prison also has a severe lack of showering facilities, hospital services, and telephone rooms.


9. HM Prison Styal (Cheshire, UK)

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Described as a closed category prison for female adults and young offenders, HM Prison Styal is located in the country hills of Cheshire, England. Initially opened as an orphanage for young and homeless children in 1898, the orphanage transformed into a female based prison in 1962. Known as having one of the worst records for suicides in England and Wales, Styal Prison is also said to be the toughest in the whole of the UK. With bullying and drugs rampant throughout the prison walls, overcrowding has also become a huge problem which has caused a number of deaths. After a report in 2004 the prison was said to be putting their inmates at risk, however, despite the negativity, nothing seems to have been done with regards to improving the quality of life.


8. Kaechon Concentration Camp (Kaechon City, North Korea)

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Let’s face it, a prison camp in North Korea is never going to be good. Located in Kae’chŏn county, P’yŏngan-namdo province in North Korea, Kaechon concentration camp sits behind a small hill east of the city center. One of the largest in the country, the prison is around 1000 feet long and is surrounded by a high wall covered with sharp and deadly barbed wire. Holding both men and women, the inmates are mostly political prisoners, however, there are a small number of everyday common criminals. Known for its extremely long sentences and harsh conditions, prisoners are unlikely to leave the prison camp alive. In fact, one female prisoner who did make it out alive told reporters that around 20% of the prisoners died during her stay of just two years.

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7. La Mesa Prison (Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico)

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Located near the Mexico-United States border, La Mesa prison is renowned for its tough women, harsh conditions, and extremely common riots. With the most famous riots coming in the year 2008, the prison had two deathly riots within days of each other. The first, which began on September 13th, ended with the death of three inmates after prisoners got angry at the death of another inmate. Then only a few days later the second riot began causing a death count of a whopping nineteen inmates after they were denied water due to the riot before. However, the prison is also associated with Catholic nun Sister Antonia Brenner, who was nicknamed “La Mama” or the “Prison Angel”. Brenner lived in the prison voluntarily for over thirty years and was often pictured caring and cooking for the female inmates.

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6. Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institution (Chiang Mai, Thailand)

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Probably one of the strangest on the list, The Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institution of the Thai Department of Corrections is one part prison and one part massage parlor. No seriously. Located in the old city of Chiang Mai in Thailand, the female correctional institution is also a vocational training center that focuses on the rehabilitation of wayward women. Famed throughout the world, the prison is also a popular tourist attraction with visitors occurring from across the globe. Each day thousands of customers line the prison walls waiting to get a massage from one of its inmates as well as some food and coffee after the massage has been done. This may not be the scariest in terms of terrifying ordeals but can you imagine having to massage up to 30/40 sweaty tourists a day? No thanks.

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5. Lowell Prison (Florida, USA)

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One of the largest female prisons in the United States, Lowell Correctional Institution is located in Marion County, Florida. The prison, which was Florida’s first female prison, opened in 1956 and has housed some of the scariest prisoners in the whole country. That’s right, from romantic rival killer Rachel Wade to kidnapper and murderess Tiffany Cole, it is Sheila the Peeler who comes out on top as the most frightening inmate of all time. Serving life without parole for the slaying of two men, Sheila the Peeler received the nickname due to the terrifying ways in which she would torture her victims, who she later claimed were pedophiles. And if that wasn’t enough, the prison recently had a tuberculosis outbreak resulting in seven confirmed cases and no clue into how the disease managed to find its way into the prison. Then in 2014 female inmate, Latandra Ellington died suspiciously after writing a letter to a friend detailing the abuse she had been receiving from who she called, “Sgt. Q”. Not a prison you want to get stuck in that’s for sure.


4. Parappana Agrahara Central Prison (Bangalore, India)

15 Scariest Female Prisons Where No One Comes Out The Same (12)

The largest prison in the Indian state of Karnataka, India, Parappana Agrahara Central Prison (or just Central Prison) holds a whopping 4,400 inmates despite its capacity at just 2,200. With overcrowding a prominent issue it is no surprise to see up to 8/9 prisoners sharing a room. Holding both men and women the female prison is the more recent of the buildings and has the lesser inmates. However, it was recently revealed that a number of prison guards had been selling the female inmates to the male inmates in order to make money. With the claims initially denied it was later discovered that certain female prisoners were made to work in the kitchen area during the night, a move which made it easier for the guards to go undiscovered. Thankfully the guards were eventually investigated leading to the removal of a number of prison guards.


3. Silverwater Women’s Correctional Center (New South Wales, Australia)

15 Scariest Female Prisons Where No One Comes Out The Same (13)

Located in Silverwater, west of Sydney, New South Wales, The Silverwater Correctional Complex is one of the largest maximum security prisons in the whole of Australia. Holding both male and female inmates, the prison is renowned for the creepy and frightening inmates that have languished behind its terrifying walls. In fact, the prison was once the home to one of Australia’s most famous female prisoners, Alice Lynne Chamberlain-Creighton, who was wrongfully convicted of killing of her nine-week-old daughter. Chamberlain continuously maintained that her daughter had been eaten by a dingo after the child had been taken from her tent on a camping trip. Initially sentenced to life in prison in 1982, Chamberlain was eventually released after the final inquest in 2012 stated that the child died “as a result of being attacked and taken by a dingo.”


2. The Metro State Prison For Women (Atlanta, USA)

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Now closed due to harsh conditions and unruly inmates, Metro State Prison was once one of the most feared prisons in the whole of the United States. Located in Georgia, Atlanta, the prison was initially a male prison but transformed into a female prison due to a number of female convicts residing closer to the prison itself. The prison was said to be so awful that a number of inmates attempted to take their own lives just to get out of there, with one convicted killer doing just that. Sentenced to life in prison for poisoning two of her husbands with antifreeze, Lynn Turner took her own life by overdosing on blood pressure medication. Also, renowned for its long and intimidating “death row”, the notorious walkway area was once described as a “path to hell itself”. Now about to reopen later this year, the prison will once again scare the life out of those who unfortunately end up there.


1. Indiana Women’s Prison (Indiana, USA)

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First established in 1873, The Indiana Women’s Prison was the first adult female correctional facility in the country. Known for its high number of inmates who require special attention, the prison has a high number of mentally ill, disabled, pregnant and elderly inmates. With the prison evolving on a yearly basis the population increased to a whopping 600 prisoners in 2015. However, although holding Indiana’s only death row for women, it currently has no death row inmates but has had its fair share of high profile criminals. That’s right, with husband killer Clara Green Gibson Carl and escapee Sarah Jo Pender is known to have walked the prison walls, it was Gertrude Baniszewski who generated the most headlines after torturing and taking the life of sixteen-year-old Sylvia Likens in the late 60s, a case which was called,”the single worst crime perpetrated against an individual in Indiana’s history”.

FAQs

What is the toughest jail in America? ›

ADX Florence was commissioned when the Federal Bureau of Prisons needed a unit designed specifically for the secure housing of those prisoners most capable of extreme, sustained violence toward staff or other inmates. As of August 2022, there are a total of 341 inmates housed.

What is the longest time someone has been in solitary confinement? ›

Albert Woodfox, who spent nearly 44 years in solitary confinement — thought to be the longest in U.S. history — died Thursday from coronavirus-related complications, according to his family.

How many female prisons are there in the US? ›

In the Bureau, women are housed among 29 facilities. Because the Bureau recognizes women may have different needs than men, the Reentry Services Division includes a Women and Special Populations Branch (WASPB).

Who is the deadliest prisoner? ›

Thomas Edward Silverstein

What time do prisoners go to bed? ›

24 Hours in Prison
HOURMINIMUMMEDIUM
8:00return to dormreturn to dorm
9:00-10:00remain in housing area
11:00lights out; go to sleep
12:00-4:00lights out; sleep
14 more rows

Who is the oldest living prisoner? ›

Until 2020, Francis Clifford Smith was the oldest living prisoner still in jail. However, according to a Connecticut-based news site, Smith was moved to a nursing home and paroled. Currently, Smith holds the record for second-longest prison sentence after Charles Fossard, who is also on this list. What is this?

Is there a toilet in solitary confinement? ›

The detainee or prisoner is held in their solitary confinement cell, which does not contain a toilet, 24 hours a day. When the detainee or prisoner wishes to use the toilet he or she must call out for a guard and wait until one agrees to take the prisoner out.

What is the longest sentence ever given? ›

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 state has most female prisoners? ›

Idaho incarcerates women at a higher rate than any other state in the country, according to an annual report released late last year by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.

What happens to babies born in jail in Texas? ›

A baby born to an incarcerated mother, whether she is in a county jail or a prison, can become a ward of Texas Child Protective Services within 48 hours of birth unless a suitable relative is available to care for the baby. Typically, a female prisoner is returned to her unit almost immediately after giving birth.

What are the special problems facing female inmates? ›

Many women have significant health challenges as well as emotional and behavioral disorders. For those who have not received the mental health or substance abuse treatment needed during incarceration, rates of relapse is high, especially in the absence of appropriate community-based services.

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

'El Chapo' Guzmán — the most heavily guarded prisoner in the world.

Who is the most famous prisoner? ›

He was returned to prison in 1988 after being convicted of planning another robbery. He is known as a violent inmate, and has taken numerous hostages in the course of confrontations with guards, resulting in his sentence later being changed to life imprisonment.
...
Charles Bronson (prisoner)
Charles Bronson
Criminal penaltyLife imprisonment
9 more rows

Who is the tallest prisoner? ›

Paul Geidel Jr.
Known forThe longest-serving prison sentence in United States history, that ended upon his release (parole). (time served – 68 years 296 days)
Conviction(s)Second-degree murder
Criminal penalty20 years to life
Details
9 more rows

How long are showers in jail? ›

Prisoners who don't have jobs — including those pursuing GEDs or college degrees — are allowed a five-minute shower on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. To shower every day, you have to work to help maintain the prison or its industries.

What kind of food do they eat in jail? ›

In federal prisons, breakfasts usually consist of a danish, hot or cold cereal, and milk. The other two meals of the day include foods such as chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, lasagna, burritos, tacos, and fish patties.

What do prisoners do for fun? ›

Many read; others write. Prisoners incessantly play cards, work out in their cells, watch TV, or work. A few prisons have programs allowing inmates to make and sell handicrafts, while most make educational experiences available. You might even learn the intricacies of law and knock some time off your sentence.

Does a life sentence end at death? ›

Life imprisonment is any sentence of imprisonment for a crime under which convicted people are to remain in prison for the rest of their natural lives or indefinitely until pardoned, paroled, or otherwise commuted to a fixed term.

Who is the longest serving prisoner on death row? ›

The 71-year-old Riles was originally sentenced to death on December 11, 1975, following his conviction for the 1974 murder of John Thomas Henry at a Houston car lot.

What is a fish in jail? ›

Meaning: There are plenty of fish in the sea, especially in areas with rising crime rates. "Fish" refers to a brand new prisoner. A fish doesn't yet understand how to avoid stepping on their fellow convicts' toes, but they had better learn quickly. Use It In A Sentence: "Saw a few fish fly in on the bus this morning."

What do female prisoners do all day? ›

Depending on the facility and the nature of their crime, female prisoners can receive more freedom than their male counterparts, and during the day, they often have access to the gyms, bathroom facilities, library, and other recreational areas. Or they can visit the prison commissary.

How often do you shower in jail? ›

E-1. 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.

Who is the youngest person to go to jail for life? ›

Lionel Alexander Tate (born January 30, 1987) is the youngest American citizen ever sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, though this sentence was eventually overturned.

Why do judges sentence over 100 years? ›

Any prisoner's sentence can be commuted by the governor, but that's true regardless of how long it is. The extra 400 years doesn't limit the governor's power. If these impossibly long sentences make any sense, it's because they make clear that a defendant has been given a separate sentence for each of his crimes.

Who got the most life sentences? ›

An Uzbek national named Abdulkadir Masharipov was handed the equivalent of 40 life sentences plus an additional 1,368 years for executing the Istanbul nightclub shooting in 2017.

Are there women's prisons in Russia? ›

39,018 women are serving sentences in penal colonies, secure hospitals, and prevention-and-treatment facilities, while 9,437 are being remanded in pre-trial detention centers.

Which country has the most female prisoners? ›

Hong Kong had the largest share of female prisoners as of July 2022, with about 18.6 percent of its detainees being women. In the United States, 10.3 percent of inmates were women.

Why is the female incarceration rate growing? ›

Women are more likely to enter incarceration with a history of abuse, trauma, and mental health conditions—86 percent of women in jail have experienced sexual violence and 77 percent have experienced intimate partner violence—but jails and prisons do little to address their needs.

What happens if a pregnant woman goes to jail? ›

Pregnant arrestees are housed in General Population unless assigned to the medical unit for other health reasons (such as drug or alcohol addiction). In many facilities, pregnant arrestees are held in lower-tier pods (to avoid stair-climbing and reduce fall risk) and are given a bottom bunk for convenience.

Can an inmate be released for the birth of their child? ›

If a prisoner is eligible for release on temporary licence, this could include instances of attending the birth of their child. Where the prisoner is not assessed as suitable for temporary release, attendance at the birth will not be possible.

What happens to babies born in jail in India? ›

Post-delivery, the mother along with her family jointly decide if the baby will continue staying with her in the prison (allowed till the child turns 6 years) or be handed over to the family. If the child's mother or family are unable to provide care, the child is handed over to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).

Do female prisoners get bras? ›

“They give you a couple pairs of underwear,” she said, “but you don't get a bra, and you don't get a t-shirt, so you're in a one piece jumper that buttons up.” She said some women will craft bras out of underwear, which is considered contraband and can come with punishment.

Why are women's prisons studied less than men? ›

Why have women's prisons been studied less often than institutions for men? Female facilities are smaller. Female institutions have looser security and are less structured in terms of inmate-staff relationships. Female inmates are less committed to the inmate code.

How many people are locked up in the United States? ›

The United States has the dubious distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world. Looking at the big picture of the 1.9 million people locked up in the United States on any given day, we can see that something needs to change.

What state in the US has the most violent prisons? ›

Louisiana State Penitentiary is the most massive maximum-security prison in the country, with a 5,000 inmate population. It is recognized as the Alcatraz of the South. The facility is notorious for comprehensive violence and inmate exploitation.

Which state has the most violent prisons? ›

This violence reflects new findings which show that Alabama's prisons are the most lethal in the nation. With 19 homicides in the last two years, and nine homicides in 2018, Alabama's rate of over 34 homicides per 100,000 people incarcerated is more than 600 percent greater than the national average from 2001 to 2014.

How many Supermax prisons are in the US? ›

A supermax prison is a maximum security prison in which inmates typically spend up to 23 hours per day in solitary confinement with little to no access to natural light. There is only one federal supermax prison in America: The United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, also called the ADX.

Has anyone escaped Alcatraz? ›

Frank Morris, Clarence Anglin and his brother John Anglin escaped from the notorious penitentiary with a raft made of raincoats and left behind plaster dummies in their beds. In 1962, three inmates escaped from the notorious Alcatraz Island penitentiary and were never seen again.

Are there luxury prisons in USA? ›

San Quentin Prison is located next to San Francisco, California, and is known as one of the most “humane and luxurious” prisons in the world.

What states have the nicest prisons? ›

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.

What are the top 3 correctional states? ›

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

How long is a life sentence? ›

There is one exception to this rule, which is when a judge passes a 'whole life order'. This sentence means that the offender must spend the rest of their life in prison. A life sentence always lasts for life, whatever the length of the minimum term.

What famous people are in Rikers Island? ›

Tupac Shakur, one of the greatest rappers of all time, and Lil' Wayne have both spent time at Rikers. Rappers DMX, and Foxy Brown, who is often called the “female Tupac” and has an extensive arrest record, spent time at Rikers. Sonny Rollins, a great saxophone player, and jazz artist spent time at Rikers.

Are prisons scary? ›

Prison is scarier than any ghost story. If you've never heard prison stories from the inside, prepare yourself to be inundated with cruelty and gore. These former inmates share their scary stories from prison – the true stories from the joint that still keep them up at night.

What is a Level 5 prisoner? ›

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.

Has anyone escaped supermax? ›

No one has ever escaped from ADX Florence. A look at one of the cell interiors at the ADX (administrative maximum) Supermax Prison in Florence, Colorado, before the facility opened in 1994.

Has anyone been released from ADX? ›

But ADX is different. Nicknamed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” no one has escaped the facility, located in the high desert about two hours south of Denver, since it opened in 1994. Inmates are housed in soundproof, 7-by-12-foot cells for 23 hours of the day in permanent lockdown, with no contact with other inmates.

Are there sharks around Alcatraz? ›

A common question on Alcatraz is, “Are there sharks?” Answer – Yes! Over a dozen species of sharks live in the San Francisco Bay. One of the most common is the Leopard Shark. Averaging about 5' in length, they prey upon crabs and other benthic creatures that live on the floor of the Bay.

Can you swim from Alcatraz to land? ›

Odyssey Alcatraz swims are approximately 2 miles long and can take anywhere between 20 minutes to over an hour based on your level of experience and the conditions. Swimmers are encouraged to wear a wetsuit due to the low temperatures, which can range anywhere from the high 40's to 65 degrees.

Why did Alcatraz shut down? ›

On March 21, 1963, USP Alcatraz closed after 29 years of operation. It did not close because of the disappearance of Morris and the Anglins (the decision to close the prison was made long before the three disappeared), but because the institution was too expensive to continue operating.

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