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  • Imagine being told you will be spending some time in prison.

  • It's your first time.

  • You are certainly no hardened criminal.

  • Hey, everyone makes mistakes.

  • But to your surprise, prison is nothing like those shows you've seen on Netflix in which

  • being incarcerated looks about as hospitable as a cage full of rabid dogs.

  • On your first day there, you are invited to do a bit of skiing.

  • On your second day, you take a dancing class and later you watch how some of the other

  • prisoners get paid for giving folks on the outside a massage.

  • What really blows you away is what happens after you tell the warden you used to work

  • as a chef in a restaurant.

  • He then has you cooking up $100 wagyu steaks for the posh part of the public.

  • Welcome to the weirdest prisons on Earth.

  • 8.

  • Eating out on the inside Let's imagine you've taken a trip to the

  • city of Cartagena in Colombia.

  • You do what most people do and you start looking online for places to eat.

  • On TripAdvisor you find a restaurant called, “Interno”, and among a lot of five-star

  • reviews you see one person has written this, “The food is superb, the space is lovely,

  • and the meal is reasonably priced.

  • You are in for one of the most unique dining experiences you can get.”

  • Below that review, you see, “The meal was outstanding, and in my opinion very fairly

  • priced.

  • The ceviche was delicious, and the steak was amazing.”

  • Ok, you think, I am definitely going to this place.

  • Except, you didn't read some of the finer details, and when you get there your food

  • is cooked and served by the female inmates of the San Diego District Jail.

  • Yep, some of the women there have been taught how to cook up high-quality meals as part

  • of a project to help them find work when they are released.

  • One chef serving a six-year sentence for extortion, put the final touches to your beef dish, “posta

  • cartagenera”.

  • It was then brought to you by a US native whose stay in Colombia was prolonged after

  • she was found in an airport with a suitcase full of cocaine.

  • She hated prison at first, saying the conditions were just awful, but things changed when she

  • got the chance to show her skills in the restaurant.

  • One of the people responsible for the project didn't deny Colombian prisons are a living

  • hell, but he feels such projects can at least give prisoners some hope.

  • He said: “The prisons aren't good, and they don't

  • treat them like human beings.

  • I know they have made mistakes, but everyone deserves a second chance and deserves the

  • dignity of being treated like a human being.”

  • In fact, that place is just one of a few prisons around the world that are doing the same.

  • In Italy, you can do some fine dining at a restaurant called, “InGalera.”

  • That meansin prisonin Italian.

  • One Google review states, “Everyone who works at the restaurant except the manager

  • is an inmate.

  • Their recidivism rate is only 17% compared to Italy's 70%!”

  • Of course, not all of the 1,200 inmates get the chance to show off their culinary skills

  • or serving acumen, but those that do are happy to do something other than look at four walls

  • most of the day.

  • The NGO that helped open the prison restaurant told the American news media who makes the

  • grade, saying, “We select inmates who are serving long sentences for all kinds of crimes,

  • including robbery and murder.

  • The only ones who can't work here are Mafia affiliates.”

  • The inmates not only learn how to become top chefs, but for their work, they can earn up

  • to $1,500 a month.

  • There's a similar thing in the UK at a restaurant calledThe Clinkwhich is operated by

  • inmates inside HMP High Down prison.

  • Here's a TripAdvisor review: “I thought this might be so highly rated

  • as it's quite a novelty factor to be able to eat inside prison walls.

  • I was totally wrong as the food totally stands on its own as being some of the best I've

  • experienced in London.”

  • Ok, enough of food, let's talk about something arguably even stranger.

  • 7.

  • The quiet life Some of you might have heard that when you're

  • sent to prison there are dangers every day.

  • You have to either keep your head down, or you might have to join a gang or make friends

  • fast.

  • If you find yourself getting sent to Sark Prison in the UK you might have a bit of shock,

  • because it's about the safest place in the world.

  • Sark prison could possibly be the smallest prison in the world, with a maximum capacity

  • of two.

  • Yes, you heard that right.

  • It was built back in 1856, and back then there wasn't much crime on the small island of

  • Sark.

  • Still, in 2020, a cop there said the island wasawashwith criminality.

  • The prison itself looks like a concrete outhouse.

  • The interior of the cells is grim, with one bed and no windows.

  • While the island is only home to 500 or so people, many of them get into violent drunken

  • fights and drive while wasted.

  • There is also a fair bit of drug trafficking happening on Sark, so the prison is needed.

  • If someone has committed a serious offense, they'll later be shipped off to a bigger

  • prison off the island.

  • This next place is possibly the most appealing prison in the entire world.

  • 6.

  • Summer camp Now we'll talk about Norway, a country that

  • has transformed its recidivism rates in a very short period of time.

  • Norway used to be home to tough prisons where inmates were treated not much better than

  • cattle, but these days the country is famous for its take on humane punishment.

  • They call it rehabilitation, a concept other countries could read a book or two on.

  • Norway's Bastoey Island Prison is called the most eco-friendly prison in the world.

  • The inmates are basically farmers, growing their own food and tending to animals.

  • They live in attractive little cottages and dine on food made by skilled chefs.

  • To think, this place used to be known as hell on Earth, a place where an insurrection led

  • to the army being called in.

  • These days inmates can go swimming, play tennis on new courts, ride horses and even go skiing

  • in the winter.

  • They are taught to value the environment and learn the essential skills for living off

  • the land.

  • Much of Europe right now has a reoffending rate of around 70 percent, and Norway was

  • similar in the past.

  • Since the country's efforts to rehabilitate prisoners were put in place, the rate is now

  • around 20 percent.

  • The rate at this prison is 16 percent.

  • Go figure

  • Would you like to get up close to hardened criminals?

  • What about one whose hands are around your neck?

  • This can happen at the next prison for about six bucks.

  • 5.

  • A hands on experience When you think of Thailand and prison, what

  • comes to mind is corrupt officers, regular beatings, inmates packed like sardines into

  • filthy cells, and generally nothing positive at all.

  • But then if you're ever in the cultural capital of Chiang Mai in the north, you might

  • find yourself being given a full body massage by someone who once plunged a knife into someone's

  • chest.

  • That's because the women's prison there is home to a massage shop that caters to the

  • public.

  • The masseuses are all inmates and have all been trained by professionals.

  • As with the vast majority of prisoners in Thailand, they are mostly in for drug charges,

  • although a fair few are in for more serious crimes.

  • Now those women have had over 300 hours of training and will give you a sublime massage

  • for 200 baht ($6) This was part of a travel blogger's review:

  • She presses her stick into the tender skin between my toes and it is a pain so exquisite

  • that I resort to deep abdominal breathing in order to bear it.

  • Nan giggles quietly, and assures me that I will feel better later; it's almost impossible

  • to think of her as a hardened criminal.”

  • Now for a prison that became world-famous for entertainment.

  • We imagine you've heard of this place.

  • 4.

  • Dance prisoner, dance Sticking with Asia, there's a prison in

  • the Philippines where inmates are encouraged en-masse to learning dancing skills.

  • In fact, a video they made dancing to Michael Jackson's “Thrillerhas over 59 million

  • views on YouTube.

  • The prison is called the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center and the dancing

  • team, a very big team sometimes consisting of 1,500 members in one routine, is called

  • the CPDRC Dancing Inmates.

  • You might wonder why they dance so much.

  • The guy that started the program said he took inspiration from the movieThe Shawshank

  • Redemptionwhich portrays inmates finding some solace in Mozart's Figaro.

  • He saw that, and thought, hmm, how can I bring some sense of comradeship, some sliver of

  • happiness, to my inmates.

  • He started them off doing marches to music but then figured out that they'd be much

  • happier dancing to songs they liked.

  • They started with the classic Pink Floyd song, “Another Brick in the Wall”, although

  • we are not sure any irony was intended.

  • They've since done loads of routines and earned tons of cash from donations and whatever

  • they make from YouTube.

  • It has been reported that prisoners can receive a little bit of the money, but human rights

  • groups have said the prisoners are being exploited.

  • Some say they are forced to dance, and so not quite as happy as the media has sometimes

  • made out.

  • You also have to remember that once they go back to their cells it's like getting a

  • reentry stamp back to the abyss.

  • The next prison is so unique you could hardly call it a prison.

  • 3.

  • Village life A couple of decades ago a prison in Bolivia

  • called San Pedro Prison made the headlines because it was said to be a “tourist prison”.

  • No kidding, you could actually pay to stay there and hang out with the inmates.

  • An Australian writer talked about this in his bookMarching Powder.”

  • That's a term for cocaine, which was why the guy was in the prison in the first place.

  • But get this, some 3,000 people in that prison ran it themselves.

  • It was a community, a place where there were markets and businesses.

  • It gets even stranger when you hear that one way a prisoner could make a ton of cash was

  • by selling cocaine to those touristsand all this was allowed.

  • These days it's still a kind of community prison.

  • You can buy a cell in the posh part of the place for around 1,500 bucks and you will

  • get a nice bedroom, a private shower room, a kitchen, a TV, and if you really have a

  • lot of cash, you can get yourself a three-level cell.

  • That might set you back $10,000 to $30,000.

  • Wives and children can of course live in the prison with the inmates.

  • Everyone is expected to pay for a cell, so if you get one of thecoffincells you

  • might only have to pay a hundred bucks or so, and if you don't have the cash on entry

  • you'll have to work to pay off the, er, mortgage.

  • Ok, so if you don't have much cash, the cells are shared and kind of cramped, but

  • that doesn't mean you can't walk around the markets or have yourself a game of pool.

  • You can still visit the restaurants run by prisoners and you can still do many other

  • activities.

  • This place is basically like a village and while there are guards, they don't really

  • enforce many rules.

  • Since cash can be made, the wealthier inmates ensure no violence erupts.

  • From what we can see, it doesn't.

  • When that Australian writer was sent there, he was expecting a normal, dirty, claustrophobic,

  • prison, and was surprised to see a working village.

  • He told the BBC, “I thought what is this place?

  • I even had to pay my own taxi fare to get there.”

  • As another person put it, “They have developed rules, a political system and punishments,

  • as well as a highly sophisticated economy.”

  • Can you imagine a prison officer handing a convicted killer a gun and telling him to

  • use it?

  • Listen to this, it happens.

  • 2.

  • Please, take this gun There's a documentary about the first prison

  • ever opened in Greenland, a place for the most dangerous people in the country.

  • These killers and other dangerous inmates were once sent to Denmark to do their time,

  • but now Greenland has its own high-tech place - Ny Anstalt prison.

  • The inmates can hang out with officers, although one inmate interviewed was unhappy about the

  • professionalism of that.

  • He said back in Denmark, they had proper guards with proper training.

  • Still, the reason for the friendliness is because the place was designed to be a “humane

  • prison.”

  • If you find yourself there, you will be given a nice room with modern fittings and you will

  • have a shared, well-equipped kitchen where you and others can rustle up some tasty food.

  • The prisoners basically get the run of the place and there are many things to do.

  • In that documentary we mentioned, one guy is taken out seal hunting as a way of rehabilitating

  • him.

  • Convicted murderers might find themselves being handed a rifle and told to hunt animals.

  • The good thing is, they haven't shot any officers yet.

  • Some guys even get to go into town on day release for work, which has made some locals

  • unhappy.

  • Since everyone knows everyone else, that prisoner might be walking among the family of someone

  • he's killed or at least hurt.

  • Still, there are also cells for maximum security prisoners, so a prisoner will have to earn

  • his little bit of freedom.

  • The views from the cells are quite amazing.

  • The architect of this magnificent place said, “You can't escape the prison because it's

  • surrounded by a big wall, but you can look at the view and escape in your mind - and

  • that's important.”

  • As the prisoner will also at some point be released back into very small communities,

  • the last thing Greenland needs is prisoners coming out worse than they went in.

  • Ok, last one, and a prison you might just pay good money to stay in.

  • Inside the Valley of Fog Yep, this place is situated in a place called

  • the Valley of Fog.

  • That's on one of the islands that comprise the Faroe Islands, an archipelago about 200

  • miles (360km) off the north-northwest of Scotland and quite a bit farther down from Iceland.

  • When we say rugged, or isolated, the Faroes fit the bill perfectly.

  • But of course, there's crime there; people steal, people fight, people take drugs, and

  • occasionally people kill things other than sea life.

  • For that reason, you have to have a prison.

  • The prison is located on the largest and most populous island of Streymoy, not far from

  • the town ofrshavn.

  • This island might be quiet, but there are still over 24,000 people that might at some

  • point in life think about committing a crime.

  • If they do, they'll be sent to the jail in that foggy valley, which in the local language

  • is called Mjørkadalur.

  • To say it's remote is an understatement, the place doesn't even have a zip code.

  • Like no other prison in the world, it has a turf roof, so it looks like the kind of

  • place you'd imagine has hobbits inside.

  • It's actually there to keep the heat in and protect the building against the elements.