The Most Expensive Prisons in the World

From Norway to Guantánamo Bay, these prisons cost more to run per inmate than most people make in a year.

Following the money of global mass incarceration

*Guantanámo Bay *

The US spends $13 million per prisoner, per year, to keep 40 inmates at the high-security military prison on the coast of Cuba. There are around 1800 military troops assigned to the facility. Judges, lawyers and journalists must be flown in for hearings at the facility’s war court. Construction and other classified expenses run the cost of maintaining Gitmo over $540 million. It is the most expensive detention center in the world.

Colorado’s Supermax prison (ADX Florence)

The Supermax, also known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” houses around 375 prisoners, who are held in solitary confinement, often for over 22 hours a day. It costs the U.S. over $78,000 per prisoner, per year. It is home to some of the most high-risk prisoners like Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzman, “Unabomber” Ted Kaczysnki, 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef. It is the most secure prison in the United States.

HMP Frankland, UK

This high-security jail, popularly nicknamed “Monster Mansion” is home to some of the UK's most notorious criminals — like “Yorkshire Ripper” Peter Sutcliffe. It costs the UK roughly $70,000 annually to maintain each prisoner at this facility. It can hold around 800 prisoners.

Halden Prison, Norway

Norway has a different approach to prisons. The country's second largest prison costs the Nordic country about $120,000 per prisoner, every year. The facility prioritizes prisoner rehabilitation and is designed to simulate real-life spaces and decrease inmates’ sense of incarceration. Inmates have access to music and sporting facilities. Staff are often unarmed, and guards participate in activities with prisoners.

*Every year, Global Prison Trends by Penal Reform International (in collaboration with the Thailand Institute of Justice) provides us with a global view on the state of prisons. And, every year, this report is, unfortunately, hardly a surprise. *