In 1948, the French colonial authorities occupying Algeria decided to build a new prison in the central city of Chlef next to the military barracks in the city center. Colonial authorities used it to imprison many of the fighters and mujahedeen who participated in the liberation revolution. The authorities decided to change locations and expand the prison to more than seven hectares on the banks of the River Chlef.
After independence in 1962, the Algerian state jailed many opponents of the regime. Tahir Zubiri was among the jailed militant leaders, many of whom escaped from the prison. In the 1980s, the regime's political opponents were imprisoned here.