Due to a long winter in the Pacific Northwest and a lackadaisical work schedule, I have filled too much of my time watching “Locked Up Abroad”. While the rain dripped and the sun hid (for three straight weeks), “at least I’m not in Malaysian prison” I reassured myself. Many of the places featured in this awesome National Geographic documentary style T.V. show are dream destinations–complete with beach and sun and sand. However, if I’ve learned one thing from the show it is this: never, no matter what, attempt to smuggle drugs into or out of any where. Ever. Stick to this seemingly obvious rule and you might keep yourself out of one of the abysmal prisons in one of the following countries.
Google “Peruvian prison” and the first page that shows up is titled, “Peruvian Prison Massacres”. That’s right, plural. The Peruvian justice system is slow and if you find yourself on the bad end of a prison cell, chances are it could be years before you even stand trial. If the wait doesn’t kill you, the living conditions might. Built for a capacity of just over 22,000 inmates, peruvian prisons, as of 2008, are packed with over 44,000 offenders. The overpacked and understaffed facilities make Peruvian prisons rampant with violence, HIV, and tuberculosis.
Malaysia is one of a few countries that mandate the death penalty for drug trafficking. While “trafficking” seems like an extreme sentence, they give it out like candy in this small Asian country. Whether you are carrying a few ounces of marijuana or a substantial amount of heroin, it could be a life-ending offense. Furthermore, if you are caught with drugs in your system, you must serve a year in “treatment”.
Another lovely country with compulsory death sentences, the only punishment for drug-trafficking in this strict country is death by hanging. However if you aren’t interested in smuggling you should still take note. Saudi Arabia carries out other severe punishments like public flogging and lengthy prison stays for other crimes like alcohol or narcotic consumption.
If you’re in Gitmo, as it’s affectionately called, then you have bigger problems than drug-trafficking. Made infamous in 2004 for torturing prisoners, Guantanamo Bay has been a source of controversy since it’s gates opened in 2002. President Obama made promises to shut down the U.S. military’s most conspicuous prison but it still remains open and highly functioning.
Black Beach prison in Equitorial Guinea is listed as one of Africa’s most notorious prisons. With no access to lawyers, family, medical supervision, and often times food, Black Beach is the last place you want to be. But what it lacks in basic human rights it makes up for in executions, rats, and disease.
Recent satellite images suggest that Camp 22 in North Korea has closed its doors. However, if you find yourself in Prison in North Korea, chances are bleak for your release, or even survival. Camp 22 is notorious for its horrific conditions: mass starvation, over-work, medical experiments, and torture. Sound familiar? Built much like a Nazi concentration camp, we can only hope that this hellacious place will be burned off the map.