Do private prisons like the one depicted in the movie Oldboy actually exist?
November 26, 2006 6:59 AM   Subscribe

Do private prisons like the one depicted in the movie Oldboy actually exist?

I've seen Oldboy a few times over the years (excellent film, highly recommended) and now I'm beginning to wonder if anything like the facility he spends the first 15-20 minutes of the film in actually exists. For those who haven't seen the movie, the facility consists of a floor of windowless hotel-rooms, each sealed with an iron door. A contractor rents out the "cells" to whoever has a person they need to store for a length of time (weeks/months/years). I can see how criminal organizations might need a service like this, detention facilities that operate outside of the legal system. Has anyone heard of anything like this happening in real life?
posted by Ndwright to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
Not strictly the same, but people traffickers forcing illegal immigrants to work imprisoned in brothels once they reach their destination country is not uncommon.
posted by jack_mo at 7:05 AM on November 26, 2006

In the USA I doubt whether such a facility could exist.

A prime directive in a criminal conspiracy is to keep the number of people in the know to a minimum.

What happens if one customer gets busted and the detention location gets revealed? Then everybody that uses that facility gets busted.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 7:19 AM on November 26, 2006

Oldboy-style prisons would be too inefficient. If it's expedient to keep someone alive and harmless, much better to take a page from the Soviet playbook: a psychiatric hospital can keep patients drugged, monitored and isolated much more easily.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:26 AM on November 26, 2006

I think the CIA uses these don't they?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:23 AM on November 26, 2006

Hasn't recent news shown us that a number of such prisons exist worldwide, usually run by contractors or deniable / off-the-books ex soldiers? I thought a couple of mercenaries in Afghanistan were arrested over something like this back in January. Most of them seem to be paid for with American tax dollars, or perhaps by American-directed Afghani drug money.
posted by luriete at 10:39 AM on November 26, 2006

Criminal organizations might have need for keeping people alive, if only to induce others to do stuff for them. In the U.S.A. such a system would be so traceable that it would soon end.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:40 AM on November 26, 2006

There are a number of facilities where you can pay to have your child kidnapped and brought to a "boot camp" (prison essentially) until they turn 18. They've been discussed many times on metafilter.
posted by bobo123 at 10:59 AM on November 26, 2006

I doubt something like this could exit in the US with the intention of releasing people later on. The mob might have facilities they use to beat information out of people before killing them.

But I can't imagine running a private, non-governmental prison in the US.
posted by delmoi at 12:21 PM on November 26, 2006

I think that it would be difficult to organize something like this, as the "clients" would have to trust the prison operators, who have no real enticement to stay honest. For this to work, it would have to be run by people connected to the "clients." So a mob-owned situation would be the most likely.

Second problem with a facility is that it's pretty hard to keep prisoners truly isolated and without means of communication. It would likely be more practical to keep kidnapped people in separate places, to minimize the possibility of the prisoners figuring out where they were or who was keeping them.
posted by desuetude at 1:15 PM on November 26, 2006

Actually, the largest private prison corporation in America, CCA, got their start doing this, but with undocumented migrants with a government contract. It was temporary, but yeah, they bought up an old motel and "prisonized" it. So I suppose that the idea of it being non-governmental doesn't hold, but there are systems that have so little oversight that situations similar to that exist.
posted by Subcommandante Cheese at 1:25 PM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Why keep someone in prison for 10 years instead of just killing them and disposing of the body.

Well, as far as the plot of OldBoy is concerned, that would sort of defeat the purpose. :)

My only gripe with it in OldBoy was that it was in the middle of the city. Isolated and in the country I imagine it might could exist, but in the middle of a large city I found it more difficult to believe.
posted by smallerdemon at 2:38 PM on November 26, 2006

I thought it made more sense in the middle of a city, where comings and goings are largely ignored. My neighbors would have to be shrieking louder than usual for anyone to even notice, let alone care.
posted by desuetude at 2:50 PM on November 26, 2006

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