The hallway door shut and a side door to the "inner cell" opened, with native Chinese convicts motioning me in to the sleeping and working quarters. The inner cell was the same size as the outer one, but it accommodated 30 convicts, all of whom slept on the concrete floor. There were no beds; instead, there were thin mattresses on which they would sleep head to foot with their neighbors.
Each cell was about 5 feet long, 8 inches wide, and 7 feet high. There was no furniture other than a bucket for a toilet and a small metal sink with a single faucet for washing. A curtain made from an old T-shirt divided the cell into an eating area and a work space. A heater was provided for cold nights, but it rarely got that cold.
There were four guards for each shift of 12 men. They were native Chinese speakers; none had any kind of European education. Each guard was equipped with a stick about 2 feet long, which he used to beat off troublemakers or just to keep order.
Inner cell photography is prohibited by law in China. However, since there was no way to prevent what would have been done anyway, the government granted permission for its publication in this case.
This is one of many photographs I took during my visit in 1996 to the Qingpu Prison in New York City.
A standard jail cell is eight by six feet (approximately 2.5 by 1.8 meters) and includes a metal bed tray (bolted to the wall or free-standing on metal legs), a basin, and a toilet. A few cell blocks include a dormitory arrangement with eight or more convicts in a bigger cell with many bunks, although this is unusual. Most jails have only one prisoner at a time in their cell.
There are two types of cells: maximum security and medium security. In a maximum security prison, inmates are not allowed any contact with other people. They eat their meals alone in their cells, have no outside activities such as reading or writing letters, and can receive only limited amounts of personal mail. An example of a maximum security prison is Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in California. In contrast, inmates in medium security prisons may work in the library or shop alone but are allowed some contact with other prisoners and staff members provide most services for them in person rather than through correspondence. For example, they would go to the market to buy food.
In all cases, inmates enter their cells through an exterior door used also for exit. The door must be large enough for a guard to pass through when opening or closing it. It usually consists of three sections: a lower panel that fits into a frame anchored to the floor; an upper section that slides over the lower section; and a lock mechanism that allows the officer to lock out the inmate.
The majority of inmates sleep in toilets. Around 20,000 guys sleep in public restrooms. The toilet is a cage, generally tiny enough that you can reach both walls with your arms outstretched. You pull the chain for a flush mechanism and use the magazine for human waste.
In addition to sleeping in toilets, people who work in kitchens often eat with their hands. This allows them to sample the quality of the food they serve. If you're working in a restaurant and don't like what you are serving, you might say "screw you" or "f--k you." These are not appropriate phrases to use in a professional setting. Nor should they be used around children or pets.
Some people choose to relieve themselves in other ways besides using the bathroom facility. For example, an inmate may hang himself from a shower rod. Also, someone who works in a kitchen may eat any leftover food from last night's dinner service. This becomes human waste that must be disposed of somehow. Since there is no sewer system on site, it is usually thrown away.
In conclusion, yes, prisoners have toilets in their cells.
Old jail cells in the United States are typically 6 by 8 feet in size, or 48 square feet (although, American Correctional Association guidelines require for a minimum of 70 square feet = 6,5 m2), with steel or brick walls and one solid or barred door that locks from the outside. More modern jails tend to use larger rooms with windows and more open space.
The Glades County Jail in Palm Beach County, Florida, for example, has 40-by-80-foot rooms with no windows and barbed wire on the walls. In addition, there is a small concrete block building across the yard from the main structure that appears to be an isolation cell. It is about 10 by 12 feet inside with no windows and barbed wire on the wall too.
Holding cells need to be large enough to accommodate their purpose while still being humane. The more time you can keep someone locked up before charging them with a crime or throwing away the key, the better.
However, too large of a room means longer detention times which could mean more charges filed against the person held in custody.
Some people may think that because a jail cell is smaller than a prison cell, they would be able to fit more people in less space. This is not true though; even with prison overcrowding, we still want our jails to be effective tools for detention rather than housing facilities.
Cellular Jail, a large three-story facility, was built to incarcerate political prisoners in isolation and physical suffering in order to suppress liberation uprisings against British colonial authorities. It is the largest prison structure in India.
The idea of constructing a prison for political prisoners originated with Lord Macaulay, who was the Governor-General of India at that time. He suggested building a prison for anti-British rebels in Calcutta so that they could be kept out of sight and mind of other prisoners and trouble makers. The proposal was accepted by the Government of West Bengal which led to the construction of Cellular Jail in 1853-54 near Port Blair on the island of Andaman.
This was the first public prison built in India and it had 100-foot high walls with deep trenches dug out under them as well as small cannon mounted on towers inside the wall for self-defense. The prison had two levels dedicated for male prisoners and one for female prisoners. Each cell was about 4 feet wide by 7 feet long with a tiny window and a metal bed frame without mattress or blanket. There was also a toilet inside the cell but no running water or air conditioner. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served in a common room with other inmates. There was only one movie shown in Port Blair during its operation from 1975-94.