Prisons are monopoly public services with very low and often negative productivity, and as such are neglected by public authorities. Instead of a correctional system whose productivity would be measured in terms of serving to deter people outside from committing crimes and to stop people inside from doing so again, some prisons create more recidivism than they cure or deter.
Prison conditions vary from country to country. In some countries overcrowding is common and in others isolation is more typical. Some prisons are without adequate heating or air conditioning. Most prisoners have adequate amounts of calories but as a rule the food is monotonous, usually consisting of beans cooked in fatty liquid. Food may be unappetizing and unhygienic and often contaminated with insects or waste products. There may be little meat or roughage. Prisoners may also be plagued by lice, fleas, mosquitoes and other insects. There are frequent cases of illness: hepatitis, salmonella, toxin-induced gastro-intestinal infections, tuberculosis, dysentery and insect-borne infectious illnesses.
2. Prison conditions in Russia in 1998 were said to be worse than under Stalin.