(CNN)The United States may be known as the "incarceration nation," with about 1% of its population behind bars, but after decades of aggressive sentencing, the number of inmates is finally on the decline.
9 former jails with surprising second lives
1 of 9
2 of 9
3 of 9
4 of 9
5 of 9
6 of 9
7 of 9
8 of 9
9 of 9
In fact, prison populations are plummeting the world over from the Netherlands to Jamaica -- and fewer inmates means fewer prisons.
While some decommissioned jails rot away like best-forgotten eyesores, others have found surprising second lives as everything from luxury hotels to concert halls and wedding venues.
Here's a look at nine unusual life-after-prison stories in which former jails have opened their gates to start anew.
Slovenia's most popular hostel is located in the most unlikely of buildings: a former Yugoslavian military prison.
Guests at Hostel Celica sleep behind bars thanks to a creative facelift that's left the building with 20 artistically redesigned jail cells -- each with its own distinct flavor.
Renovation of this Ljubljana icon -- in the hands of the Yugoslav federal army until 1991 -- took 10 years and 80 artists. It finally opened to the public in 2003, transforming what was once a place of confinement into a place of open ideas and cross-cultural exchange.
The former prison is also home to an art gallery with a cultural program that includes regular concerts, workshops, poetry readings and philosophical debates.