The penal colony of Cayenne, commonly known as Devil's Island, was a French penal colony that operated for more than 100 years, from 1852 to 1953, in the Salvation Islands of French Guiana.
Opened in 1852, the Devil's Island system received convicts from the Prison of St-Laurent-du-Maroni, who had been deported from all parts of the Second French Empire. It was notorious both for the staff's harsh treatment of detainees and the tropical climate and diseases that contributed to high mortality. The prison system had a death rate of 75% at its worst, and was finally closed down in 1953.
Devil's Island was also notorious for being used for the internal exile of French political prisoners, with the most famous being Captain Alfred Dreyfus accused of spying for Germany. The Dreyfus Affair was a scandal extending for several years in late 19th-early 20th century France, exposing anti-Semitism and corruption in the French military.