Cushy prisons worth getting locked-up in
It's every traveler's worst nightmare: getting arrested abroad. But what if you were locked up in a foreign prison so luxe, it was like staying at a resort? And, it didn't cost you a dime! What, still no interest? Fair enough. Amazingly, such five-star slammers do exist. And these are our favorites.
Leoben Justice Center, Austria
While violent crime is rare in Austria, burglary’s all the rage -- robbery rates are 40% higher than in the US. Why so high? Probably because everyone's trying to get into Leoben Justice Center, a flashy minimum-security prison that could easily be mistaken for a building on the Google campus.
Perks: Not only do
guests inmates have access to a weight room, basketball court, and outdoor recreation center, they also get their own cells complete with TVs, private bathrooms, and kitchenettes.
Halden Prison, Norway
If a life of crime has been holding you back from your true calling as a rock star, then perhaps you should consider an extended incarceration at Halden, the only prison in the world with a recording studio.
Perks: When inmates aren't laying down tracks for their demo tapes, they can curl up with a book in the library or scale the prison's rock-climbing walls (because why bother trying to escape over the actual prison walls?). And there's no need to worry about dropping the soap during shower time; every prisoner has his own private bathroom -- scented bath oils may or may not be included.
Bastoy Prison, Norway
Located on Bastoy Island in the idyllic Oslofjord, this 'eco prison' is home to around 100 inmates who live in beach-front cottages and run an organic farm. There are no trendy orange jumpsuits either, as prisoners can wear whatever they like.
Perks: When not tilling the soil, jailbirds can sunbathe (either on outdoor loungers or tanning beds), ride horses, hike, ski, fish, enjoy a sauna, or play tennis.
What the...? Surely, this joint is exclusively for harmless white-collar types, right? Well, not exactly. Many of the inmates are actually serving time for murder or rape. The theory (that would no doubt cause Bill O'Reilly's head to explode) is that if dangerous criminals are given certain liberties, they'll respond better to rehabilitation. And evidence indicates it may be working; released inmates are half as likely to become repeat offenders as other inmates in Western Europe.
Pondok Bambu Prison, Indonesia
Wait, aren't Indonesian prisons supposed to be rat-infested hellholes where drug smugglers rot away if they're lucky enough to avoid the firing squad? Actually, it depends on how much cash said (un?)lucky drug smuggler slips to authorities -- bribery can score you a much better view, including one from the lovely Pondok Bambu Prison. TRAVELER'S NOTE: If you’re ever convicted of a crime in Indonesia, don't forget to bring your checkbook to sentencing. Also, two pieces of ID -- 'cause they're never going to accept it without, and you don't want everyone in line behind you to be sighing and making comments under their breath about the dude who's still using a checkbook.
Perks: The prison is decked out with garden sculptures, designer furniture, A/C, in-cell refrigerators, karaoke machines (Young MC, anyone?), and a beauty salon that offers haircuts and spa treatments. And their promotional video (above) includes a nifty jingle about peace, love, and harmony, as well as tearful inmates thankful for their incarceration.
Aranjuez Prison, Spain
The perfect lockup for felons eager to keep the family together while doing time, Aranjuez is the only prison in the world that accommodates criminal couples and provides private houses so that kids can live on-site while Mom and Dad serve out their sentences.
Perks: Double beds, cribs, toys, books, and even a kindergarten, not to mention routine doctor's visits, counseling, and access to the prison supermarket.