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I know there are hotels built in buildings that used to be a prison. Is it possible to do some jail time as a tourist, somewhere? That is without doing the crime and only for a short period, just for the experience?


I am not looking for converted prisons. I have "spent" quite some time in those kinds, of which Langholmen was my favorite. I was really interested in experiencing the real thing. You often hear people say it is like a hotel these days. Would be nice to see if that is factual.

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I added the "accommodation" tag thinking that by "spend time" you wanted to stay in the prison rather than just visit for a few hours. Please remove the tag and clarify the question if this is not what you meant. – hippietrail Dec 19 '13 at 13:53
@andra: I see you removed the accommodation tag but you still didn't clarfiy whether you want to stay overnight versus just having some kind of guided tour. I'd be pretty sure you could stay overnight in some of the (in)famous prisons in Colombia and Bolivia where the inmates run businesses and live with their families in the prisons. You can definitely go on tours in some of them and interact with some of the prisoners. So what do you mean by "spend time"? – hippietrail Dec 20 '13 at 3:30
@hippietrail if you put it that way, yes it is accomodation, I don't want to stay in a coverted prison into a hotel though – user141 Dec 20 '13 at 6:42
@andra: Yes you did make that part very clear. (-: To me if you're staying there overnight you're looking for a working prison that you can use for accommodation. That definitely warrants the extreme tourism tag! (-: – hippietrail Dec 20 '13 at 6:45
Now you want to spend time as a tourist attraction? (-: – hippietrail Dec 20 '13 at 9:22
up vote 14 down vote accepted

One of the most infamous ones is the prison in La Paz, Bolivia - the San Pedro prison. This prison was made famous in the book "Marching Powder".

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(source: Wikipedia)

This prison is basically run by the prisoners, and even the guards don't enter the prison. Tourists aren't "meant" to go in, but there's a way, for sure. Obviously, you do this at your own risk.

My friends at Flightfox wrote a great piece on how they got into the prison, so for a writeup on how to achieve this feat, I provide their article on the subject - "Breaking into a Bolivian Prison".

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This is exactly what I was lokking for! – user141 Dec 19 '13 at 5:45
@andra glad I could help. When I was there I met one or two people who were trying but didn't really realise the gravity of it all. If I went back, I'd totally attempt again. – Mark Mayo Dec 19 '13 at 6:09
@hippietrail thanks, fixed. – Mark Mayo Dec 19 '13 at 14:21

The Malmaison Hotel in Oxford is converted from the old prison, and still retains much of the prison features. The wings look as they did, you still enter many of the rooms through cell doors, the main difference is that the rooms now take up multiple cells! (They're very very nice rooms...) If you're a fan of the TV show Lewis, there was an episode set there, so you may've seen it in that. As you walk around, it feels like a prison, but then you enter a nice room or the bar and the effect goes away. Douglas Neiner from David Stifry from Douglas Neiner from

Otherwise, I think your best bet might be to visit a former prison that's now a museum. Alcatraz is the obvious one that springs to mind, but that is very popular and hence very busy.

Probably the best one I've visited is Maitland Gaol in Maitland, NSW, Australia. It was a jail for 150 years, before recently closing and becoming a museum. I found the audio tour to be better than the Alcatraz one, and it was much much quieter. If you wanted to stay in the prison, then they sometimes offer Fright Nights where you sleep in the cells. I doubt they're up to the luxury of a room in the Oxford Malmaison though!

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The answer is "sure", though it may be somewhat far from civilization.

There is an NBC News Report allowing you stay in Jail for the night and there is a similar one listed in Missouri. If you choose to book it you can go to Jail Tours

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Those are dry runs, that would be similar to the Stockholm experience. Langholmen also was a "real prison" only the inmates were lacking since it now was a hostel and a prison museum – user141 Dec 18 '13 at 19:28
@andra What do you mean dry runs? You prefer something like: – Karlson Dec 18 '13 at 19:30
Dry run is a test before they open. No real inmates – user141 Dec 18 '13 at 19:44
@andra Well technically you didn't ask for other inmates. :) – Karlson Dec 18 '13 at 19:51
@hippietrail There seem to have been lots of typos. :) – Karlson Dec 19 '13 at 20:23

I used to go to the jail here in Tarija Bolivia.

To get inside you need an ID (residential visa ID) and you need a reason to enter. You can't just enter just to look around as a tourist. You also need to remember that as Bolivia is a 3rd world country, the local prisons are worse. ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK.

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Sometimes before opening for business a prison will do this, but usually it's invitation only for local judges, lawyers, and other dignitaries. Maybe if you know a prison under construction and know some of those living nearby you can arrange to be included in the party.

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on spending the night in prison as a tourist 'safely', check out this page:

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While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. – Mark Mayo Feb 25 '15 at 10:30

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