For a lot of people, the idea of ending up in prison is such a scary thought. Case in point is the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment which was conducted from August 14 to 20, 1971. According to a report from the ABA Journal, psychology professor Philip Zimbardo had paid students $15 per day to take on the role of a prisoner or guard. During the experiment, participants portraying the role of the prisoner were processed and booked as protocol dictates. Afterward, they were blindfolded and taken to a makeshift prison in a basement in Standford University. Here, the role-playing immediately got serious.
And while the experiment was intended to run for two weeks, it ended up lasting for only six days. According to Zimbardo, “Our planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress.”
Based on this experiment, it’s easy to recognize that prison is a very scary place. However, we have reason to believe that there are cases when a prison isn’t so bad. Just check out these photos:
19 Prison Healthcare
Just like all other citizens, prisoners are also entitled to proper healthcare. Back in 2017, the Daily Beast reported the bizarre story of Richard James Verone, a man who decided to rob the bank for a measly dollar just so he could go to jail.
He did all this to be able to receive health care. In a way, his motive made sense since prisoners tend to have access to free adequate health care. Meanwhile, in other cases, they only pay as little as $5.
18 Prison Church Worship
Inside prisons, inmates are allowed to practice their faith. Hence, they would participate in large religious gatherings such as the Annual Protestant Revival in 2017 where this photo was taken.
According to a report from San Quentin News, hundred of San Quentin prisoners gathered for the four-day event. Aside from sermons, there was also a lot of singing and even a “mime/dance interpretation.”
17 Music Performances in Prison
Aside from prisoners participating in music workshops themselves, it seems that these inmates also get visited by several music artists from time to time. For the Irene Taylor Trust, this is all part of a program known as Music in Prisons.
On its website, the organization explained that the program “is enabled to create positive learning experiences that can help to raise the self-confidence and aspirations of men, women and young people in prisons, open doors to other forms of education and learning, and contribute to a reduction in re-offending rates.”
16 Prison Yoga
For inmates, going out and heading to a yoga studio is absolutely not an option. Instead, they would practice yoga inside the prison. In fact, it looks to be a regular activity for inmates at the Utah State Prison.
And during an interview, inmate Ferosa Bluff told The Salt Lake Tribune, “You can have a positive experience in a place that is known for a negative connotation. Even in a place like this, we can find the beauty and peace in something like yoga.”
15 Prison Fashion Project
Inside the Adriano Marrey penitentiary near Sao, Paulo, Brazil, inmates have been working on a special and fashionable project.
Thanks to some weekly classes with Brazilian designer Gustavo Silvestre, the prisoners have become quite skilled at crocheting, even going on to create beachwear, jackets, dresses and other apparel. Moreover, inmate Honorato Bezerra told Yahoo Lifestyle, “Crocheting helps us reduce our anxiety and to make time go by.”
14 Prisoner Ceramics
While some prisons are promoting crocheting, others encourage inmates to try their hand at ceramics. Such is the case for a modern prison in Norway known as Halden Fengsel, which holds a ceramics workshop for its inmates.
According to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders back in 2017, engaging in some clay art “can aid emotion regulation and benefit various aspects of mental health in adults.”
13 Prison Chess
For some prisons, there is nothing like participating in a chess match to keep inmates occupied and entertained. And when they perform extremely well, some inmates even get the chance to compete in chess tournaments.
According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, inmates from Cook County Jail get to compete with some of the best players around the world through an online chess tournament.
12 Prison Video Games
Back in the Halden Fengsel modern prison in Norway, it seems that inmates are allowed to live quite a normal life. In fact, based on this photo, it appears that they are even given the time to play with some video games.
And from the looks of it, they are certainly keeping themselves quite entertained while continuing to serve their prison sentence.
11 Prison Basketball
According to the NBA, the Golden State Warriors tend to make a trip to San Quentin Prison every year. And back in 2016, it brought along Warrior superstars such as Draymond Green and Kevin Durant.
Aside from participating in a basketball game, the players also took the time to sign some autographs and even play some dominos with the inmates.
10 Prisoner Painting Workshop
In this photo, an inmate at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego is happily working on a mural as part of the Project PAINT art workshop.
With regard to this project, its founding director, Laura Pecenco, once explained, “Art allows for a different masculinity. You get to take on this label of ‘artist’ and it really changes the criteria by which you are judged.”
9 Prisoner Theater
Aside from painting, there are also some correctional facilities who have decided to incorporate theater art into their inmates’ activities. In fact, there is an Actor’ Gang Prison Project, Theater Workshop being held inside the California Rehabilitation Center which has an ongoing Arts in Corrections program.
According to the California Rehabilitation Center, the goal is to “expose inmates to classes where they can express themselves therapeutically through drawing, creative writing, dance, poetry, theater, and other artistic methods.”
8 Prison Meals
Back at the Halden Fengsel prison in Norway, mealtimes are a lot more relaxed than you might think.
In fact, according to the New York Times, this photo was taken while inmates were slicing cake that was made for another inmate’s birthday. In case you’re wondering, this Norwegian cake is known as the kvaefjord kake. It’s a sponge cake that also features custard, whipped cream, and meringue topped with almonds.
7 Prison Marriage
For some inmates, finding love after incarceration is more than possible. In fact, some of them even end up getting married while they are still behind bars.
Moreover, in Scotland, The Sunday Post reports that prisoners are even offered the services of a wedding planner and they can even hold parties for up to 12 people. In addition, the prison staff would even arrange flowers and a buffet spread for the occasion.
6 Prison Gardening
Inside San Quentin Prison, Beth Waitkus became inspired to start the Insight Garden Program where inmates get a chance to connect with nature on a more intimate and spiritually nourishing level.
Moreover, according to a report from Berkleyside, inmates would also participate in eco-therapy and meditation. Following the implementation of the program, it has had a 10 percent recidivism rate.
5 Prison Pizza Delivery
Inside the Cook County Jail, inmates get to taste a bit of normal outside life, thanks to their ability to order pizza delivery. According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, the price would be $5 for a plain Margherita.
Meanwhile, if they would want something fancier, such as the “four seasons” pie, they would have to pay $7.
4 Prison Lounge
Inside a minimum-security facility at the Missouri River Correctional Center in Bismarck, ND, inmates get to hang out in a lounge and watch some television. As you can see, some American prisons are now being modeled after the Norwegian model, which has proven to be quite successful.
According to a report from The Marshall Project, there are other states that have also followed suit.
3 Prison Education
For inmates, being given the opportunity to pursue education while they are incarcerated can certainly help change their lives for the better.
As a report by the Vera Institute of Justice and Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality explained, “Formerly incarcerated people who re-enter the labor market with greater levels of education are more likely to find employment and less likely to return to prison, potentially improving social and economic outcomes for their communities, families and themselves while leading to significant savings to states.”
2 Prison Graduation
Being given the chance to achieve a degree while in prison certainly helps an inmate change for the better. This photo was taken inside the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center state prison.
According to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch earlier this year, as many as 10 inmates graduated from the Washington University Prison Education Project where inmates can complete 60 credits in courses that are taught by Washington University professors.
1 Prison Party Bus
According to a report from World Wide Weird News, this photo was taken after 14 teens were arrested in Florida for underage drinking. Moreover, the Okaloosa Sheriff’s Office also said that they were being charged for public intoxication.
And while on the prison bus, it seems that most of these kids were still determined to keep the party going. We’re not sure if they came to their senses once they got sober.
Sources: Stanford Prison Experiment Official Website, The Daily Beast, San Quentin, News & Vice