Top 7 Worst and Most Dangerous Prisons in California

The list of top 7 Worst and Most Dangerous Prisons in California.

California in the United States has a total of 34 prisons for various levels of offenders. Generally, when we think of prisons, we imagine harsh conditions. However, only some correctional facilities in California are worse or more dangerous. 

Depending on the poor living conditions, guard brutality, gang violence, overpopulation, and more such cases, we have listed the top 7 worst and most dangerous prisons in California. So let’s learn about each of them one by one.

Top 7 Worst and Most Dangerous Prisons in California

These are the top 7 most dangerous and worst prisons in the state of California.

01. California Medical Facility (CMF) 

Security LevelMinimum, Medium 
Current Population1,887
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Worst 

California Medical Facility prison is built to hold only male inmates. It was first opened in 1965. It’s situated in California’s Vacaville city.

The prison has two security classes, minimum and medium. Its current capacity is 2,361, but it’s only keeping 1,887 prisoners. Meaning it has only used 79.9% of its ability. 

The current warden of CMF is Daniel Cueva. Although it’s not an overpopulated prison, it’s one of the worst correctional facilities.

The reason is its poor medical services. Inmates have complained about not getting enough medical attention; some even said they had to wait weeks to get treated. 

There is no longer the problem of overcrowding; however, weak prisoners are still beaten by strong criminals like gangsters, and guards don’t do anything about it. 

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02. California State Prison, Corcoran (COR) 

Security LevelMinimum, Maximum
Current Population3,447
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Worst 

In 1988 California State Prison was opened, which is a male-only facility. It stands in California’s Kings County. It keeps minimum to maximum security level prisoners. 

This correctional facility is another worst place for criminals as it’s an overly populated prison. It currently has 10.3% more inmates than it can. The holding capacity, according to reports, is 3,116. But as of July 2021, it has housed 3,440 offenders. 

Many news stories were covered on California State correctional officers shooting inmates. They are also put in solitary confinement, which is too small to stay and unhygienic. 

This led to inmates going on a hunger strike in July 2013. Since then, the problem has been partially fixed. Still, several inmates are put into solitary confinement without letting news reporters cover it. 

03. San Quentin State Prison (SQ) 

Security LevelMinimum, Maximum
Current Population3,239
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Worst 

San Quentin State Prison is located north of San Francisco. It was established in 1852, and after two years in 1854, the prison doors were opened for the first time. It’s the largest correctional facility in the United States that only holds male inmates. 

It has three security levels, including minimum, medium, and maximum. It’s big enough to keep 3,82 inmates. However, the prison is holding 5% more than it can. As of July 2022, the number of inmates in San Quentin State Prison is 3,239. 

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The reason for counting it as a dangerous prison is its brutal environment for inmates. Reports say that guards are usually rude to inmates, which makes them feel like they’re in a hell cell.

According to some inmates, when the coronavirus attacked many people, the medical care facility didn’t care enough for sick ones, so some had to die. 

04. Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) 

Security LevelSupermax
Current Population1,654
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Worst 

Opened in 1989, Pelican Bay State Prison has one of the worst reputation correctional facilities in the United States. Its location is in the Crescent City of Del Norte County.

Since it’s a supermax prison, guards made violence a culture there, and many prisoners were tortured by keeping them naked or tied up for a long time. 

So eventually, the prison system faced lawsuits. Fortunately, the overcrowding, over-torturing, third-degree burning, and more inhumane things stopped slowly after the 2013 hunger strike.

As of 2022, the number of prisoners has increased, and now the correctional facility holds only 69.4% of its capacity.

05. Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP)

Security LevelMaximum
Current Population2,907
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Worst 

Kern Valley State Prison has a terrible reputation with a maximum security system. Located in Delano, California, it’s a male-only correctional facility. Its inmate holding capacity is 2,448; however, it’s holding 2,907 prisoners, making it overcrowded. 

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Moreover, guards don’t control the overpowered inmates; the powerful ones often beat weak prisoners. For all these reasons, the correctional facility faced several lawsuits. However, the issues didn’t decrease.

It’s still an overpopulated place for criminals, with 18.7% more prisoners than it should be.’However, the issues didn’t decrease.

06. Folsom State Prison (FSP)

Security LevelMinimum, Medium
Current Population2,2664
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Worst 

 Standing in Folsom, California, this particular minimum to maximum level correctional facility holds additional 30.4% inmates.

It keeps both male and female inmates. The prison was established in 1880. It was designed to keep 2,066 men but currently is keeping 2,907 inmates. 

The Folsom State Prison is famous for inmates’ escape. This hints that the prison is a dangerous place to stay. The main reason is gang fights.

Several gangs utilize their gang power on individuals. This led to injuries and killings. According to news reports. 10 prisoners were inhumanely stabbed. Even one offender was shot dead.

07. California State Prison, Solano

Security LevelMedium
Current Population3,255
Managed ByCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Here’s Why It’s Considered as Worst 

Opened in August 1984, California State correctional facility is indeed a worse place for prisoners. The reason is its extreme population.

This specific prison is located in Vacaville, California. It has inmates that require a medium security level. While it’s designed to keep 2,610 prisoners, it’s actually holding 3,255 offenders. This is 24.7% extra than its actual capacity.

There are also reports of gang violence and guards using excessive force and keeping them in unsanitary cells. This also has faced lawsuits, but only a few issues were solved. 

Final Words

Prisons are already known for being worse places to be. However, some correctional facilities are worse than you can imagine. We have listed such dangerous and worst prisons that are in California. 

In these prisons, loneliness is not the only thing that makes inmates wholly broken from the inside but also guards, gangs, and other issues.

However, a few correctional institutions in California are trying to solve the problems prisoners face.

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