With all the talk about famous people possibly going to prison these days, it made me think about the time I visited some state prisons as a young child growing up in The South. A few of my uncles used to be locked up in state prisons, including one of my favorites, who was nicknamed "Hard Time" because he was in there for so long.

Visiting those state prisons ranks in the top 20 list of the worst things I experienced as a kid. It was extremely sad and emotional for my family. Recently, four prisons in California made the “worst prisons in the country” list. Being nosy, I had to see which ones made the "cut."

My fascination with prisons in California can likely be traced to hearing about Alcatraz as I was growing up. After all, that’s where they kept Al Capone. (They didn't keep his secret treasure stash there, though. Just ask Geraldo!)

Geraldo Al Capone Vault
Geraldo opens Al Capone's Vault, MoreCapitalCities via YouTube


What about James “Whitey” Bulger? He was an inmate at Alcatraz, too. Also, Machine Gun Kelly, the early 1900s criminal gangster from Memphis, not the tatted-up-faced rapper/human vampire who dates actress Megan Fox. (I think Rapper Machine Gun Kelly is criminally overrated, but that is another story for another day.)



If you've never visited a prison before, you've likely seen people doing so on television and in movies. Most recently, I saw someone visiting a state prison on one of my favorite TV shows, Reservation Dogs. In Season 2, episode 9, “Offerings”, one of the lead characters, Willie Jack, decides to visit her cousin who is incarcerated at a state prison in Oklahoma. Willie Jack had to go through prison security before she was allowed to visit, including giving them her full government name (Wilhemina Jackson), surviving a security wand check, and answering a few short questions-from one of the prison guards.

The Reservation Dogs prison guard asked Willie Jack if she was a convicted felon and if she was currently incarcerated, which was hilarious because she looked back at him like, “Now, if I was currently incarcerated then how could I even be here?” She next had to wait inside the secured area for visitors.

Once Willie Jack made it to the prison visiting room to visit her cousin, the prison guard informed her she was allowed "only two small moments of contact: either a small hug or a kiss on the cheek." This experience is somewhat similar to what it's like visiting a state prison in real life.


Source: Money Inc.

Where Are the Worst Prisons in California?

These four prisons in California made the “worst prisons in the country” list. They are located in Crescent City, Los Angeles, Represa, and San Quentin.

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