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A prison (also known as a jail or gaol (dated,
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and common culture * British English, t ...
,
Australian Australians, colloquially referred to as "Aussies", are the citizens, nationals and individuals associated with the country of Australia. Between 1788 and the Second World War, the vast majority of settlers and immigrants came from the Brit ...
, and to a lesser extent
Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, many (or all) of these connections exist and are collectively the source of ...
English), penitentiary (
American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English is the most influential form of ...
), detention center (or centre if outside the US), correction center (
American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English is the most influential form of ...
), correctional facility, lock-up or remand center) is a facility in which
inmate A prisoner (also known as an inmate or detainee) is a person who is deprived of liberty against their will. This can be by confinement, captivity, or forcible restraint. The term applies particularly to serving a prison sentence in a prison. This ...
s (or prisoners) are forcibly confined and denied a variety of freedoms under the authority of the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, United States * ''Our Sta ...
as punishment for various crimes. Prisons are most commonly used within a
criminal justice 350px, United States criminal justice system flowchart. Criminal justice is the delivery of justice to those who have committed crimes. The criminal justice system is a series of government agencies and institutions. Goals include the rehabilitat ...
system: people charged with crimes may be imprisoned until their trial; those pleading or being found guilty of crimes at trial may be
sentenced Sentenced was a Finnish gothic metal band that played melodic death metal in their early years. The band formed in 1989, in the town of Muhos, Finland, and broke up in 2005. Band history Early years (1988–1991) Sentenced started in 1988 as D ...
to a specified period of imprisonment. In simplest terms, a prison can also be described as a building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed. Prisons can also be used as a tool of
political repression Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The branch of social science that studies ...
by
authoritarian Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by the rejection of political plurality, the use of a strong central power to preserve the political ''status quo'', and reductions in the rule of law, separation of powers, and democratic v ...
regimes. Their perceived opponents may be imprisoned for
political crime In criminology, a political crime or political offence is an offence involving overt acts or omissions (where there is a duty to act), which prejudice the interests of the state, its government, or the political system. It is to be distinguished ...
s, often without trial or other legal
due process Due process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects the individual person from it. When a government harms a person without fo ...
; this use is illegal under most forms of
international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptual framework to guide ...
governing fair administration of justice. In times of war,
prisoners of war A prisoner of war (POW) is a non-combatant—whether a military member, an irregular military fighter, or a civilian—who is held captive by a belligerent power during or immediately after an armed conflict. The earliest recorded usage of the ...
or
detainees Detention is the process whereby a state or private citizen lawfully holds a person by removing their freedom or liberty at that time. This can be due to (pending) criminal charges preferred against the individual pursuant to a prosecution or to ...
may be detained in
military prisons A military prison is a prison operated by a military. Military prisons are used variously to house prisoners of war, unlawful combatants, those whose freedom is deemed a national security risk by the military or national authorities, and members of ...
or
prisoner of war camp A prisoner-of-war camp (often abbreviated as POW camp) is a site for the containment of enemy fighters captured by a belligerent power in time of war. There are significant differences among POW camps, internment camps, and military prisons. Pu ...
s, and large groups of civilians might be imprisoned in
internment camps Internment is the imprisonment of people, commonly in large groups, without charges or intent to file charges. The term is especially used for the confinement "of enemy citizens in wartime or of terrorism suspects". Thus, while it can simply me ...
. In
American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English is the most influential form of ...
, the terms ''prison'' and ''jail'' have separate definitions, though this is not always followed in casual speech. A ''prison'' or ''penitentiary'' holds people for longer periods of time, such as many years, and is operated by a state or federal government. A ''jail'' holds people for shorter periods of time (e.g. for shorter sentences or
pre-trial detention Remand, also known as pre-trial detention, preventive detention, or provisional detention, is the process of detaining a person until their trial after they have been arrested and charged with an offense. A person who is on remand is held in ...
) and is usually operated by a local government. Outside of North America, ''prison'' and ''jail'' often have the same meaning.


History


Ancient and medieval

The use of prisons can be traced back to the rise of the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, United States * ''Our Sta ...
as a form of social organization. Corresponding with the advent of the state was the development of
written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it must be taught to children, who will pick up spoken language or sign language by exposure even if ...
, which enabled the creation of formalized
legal codes A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time the code was enacted, by a process of codification. ...
as official guidelines for society. The best known of these early legal codes is the
Code of Hammurabi The Code of Hammurabi is a Babylonian legal text composed 1755–1750 BC. It is the longest, best-organised, and best-preserved legal text from the ancient Near East. It is written in the Old Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, purportedly by Hammur ...

Code of Hammurabi
, written in
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite: ''Karanduniash'' , image ...
around 1750 BC. The penalties for violations of the laws in Hammurabi's Code were almost exclusively centered on the concept of ''
lex talionis "An eye for an eye" ( hbo, עַ֚יִן תַּ֣חַת עַ֔יִן) or the law of retaliation ( la, lex talionis) is the principle that a person who has injured another person is to be penalized to a similar degree by the injured party. In softer ...
'' ("the law of retaliation"), whereby people were punished as a form of vengeance, often by the victims themselves. This notion of punishment as vengeance or retaliation can also be found in many other legal codes from early civilizations, including the ancient Sumerian codes, the
Indian
Indian
''
Manusmriti The ''Manusmṛti'' (Sanskrit: ), is an ancient legal text and constitution among the many ' of Hinduism. It was one of the first Sanskrit texts to have been translated into English in 1776, by British philologist Sir William Jones, and was used ...
'' (Manava Dharma Sastra), the ''
Hermes Trismegistus Hermes Trismegistus (from grc, Ἑρμῆς ὁ Τρισμέγιστος, "Hermes the Thrice-Greatest"; Classical Latin: la, label=none, Mercurius ter Maximus) is a legendary Hellenistic figure that originated as a syncretic combination of the Gr ...
'' of Egypt, and the
Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the tribal and monarchic periods. In the Hebrew Bible, the ter ...
Mosaic Law The Law of Moses ( he, תֹּורַת מֹשֶׁה ), also called the Mosaic Law, primarily refers to the Torah or the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. They were traditionally believed to have been written by Moses, but most academics now belie ...
. Some
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Dark Ages (), the Archaic period ...
philosophers, such as
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ''Plátōn'', in Classical Attic; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Academy, the ...

Plato
, began to develop ideas of using punishment to reform offenders instead of simply using it for its own sake. Imprisonment as a penalty was used initially for those who could not afford to pay their fines. Eventually, since impoverished Athenians could not pay their fines, leading to indefinite periods of imprisonment, time limits were set instead. The prison in Ancient Athens was known as the ''desmoterion'' ("place of chains"). The Romans were among the first to use prisons as a form of punishment, rather than simply for detention. A variety of existing structures were used to house prisoners, such as metal cages, basements of public buildings, and
quarries Stone quarry in Soignies, Hainaut (province), Belgium">ainaut_(province).html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Soignies, Hainaut (province)">Soignies, Hainaut (province), Belgium A quarry is a type of op ...
. One of the most notable Roman prisons was the
Mamertine Prison The Mamertine Prison ( it, Carcere Mamertino), in antiquity the Tullianum, was a prison (''carcer'') located in the Comitium in ancient Rome. It is said to have been built in the 7th century BC and was situated on the northeastern slope of the Cap ...

Mamertine Prison
, established around 640 B.C. by
Ancus Marcius Ancus Marcius (–617 BC; reigned 642–617 BC)"Ancus Marcius" in ''The New Encyclopædia Britannica''. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 15th edn., 1992, Vol. 1, p. 379. was the legendary fourth king of Rome.Upon the death of the previous kin ...
. The Mamertine Prison was located within a sewer system beneath ancient Rome and contained a large network of dungeons where prisoners were held in squalid conditions, contaminated with
human waste Human waste (or human excreta) refers to the waste products of the human digestive system, menses, and human metabolism including urine and faeces. As part of a sanitation system that is in place, human waste is collected, transported, treated an ...
. Forced labor on public works projects was also a common form of punishment. In many cases, citizens were sentenced to
slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for another person (a slaver), while treated as property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved person being made ...
, often in
ergastulaAn ergastulum (plural: ergastula) was a Roman building used to hold in chains dangerous slaves or to punish other slaves. The ergastulum was usually built as a deep, roofed pit below ground level, large enough to allow the slaves to work within it, a ...
(a primitive form of prison where unruly slaves were chained to workbenches and performed hard labor). During the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th to the late 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and transitioned into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages i ...
in Europe, castles, fortresses, and the basements of public buildings were often used as makeshift prisons. The possession of the right and the capability to imprison citizens, however, granted an air of legitimacy to officials at all levels of government, from kings to regional
court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance wi ...
s to
city council A city council, town council, town board, or board of aldermen is the legislative body that governs a city, town, municipality, or local government area. Australia Because of the differences in legislation between the states, the exact definition ...
s; and the ability to have someone imprisoned or killed served as a signifier of who in society possessed
power Power typically refers to: * Power (physics), meaning "rate of doing work" ** Engine power, the power put out by an engine ** Electric power *** Solar power Power may also refer to: Mathematics, science and technology Computing * IBM Power (soft ...
or
authority In the fields of sociology and political science, authority is the legitimate power that a person or a group of persons possess and practice over other people. In a civil state, ''authority'' is made formal by way of a judicial branch and an execu ...
over others. Another common punishment was sentencing people to galley slavery, which involved chaining prisoners together in the bottoms of ships and forcing them to row on naval or merchant vessels.


Modern era

The influence of French philosopher
Michel Foucault Paul-Michel Foucault ( , ; ; 15 October 192625 June 1984) was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, writer, political activist, and literary critic. Foucault's theories primarily address the relationship between power and knowledge, and how ...
, especially his book ''
Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison ''Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison'' (french: Surveiller et punir : Naissance de la prison) is a 1975 book by the French philosopher Michel Foucault. It is an analysis of the social and theoretical mechanisms behind the changes t ...
'' (1975), has energized the historical study of prisons and their role in the overall social system. ''Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison'' is an analysis of the social and theoretical mechanisms behind the changes that occurred in Western penal systems during the modern age based on historical documents from France. Foucault argues that prison did not become the principal form of punishment just because of the
humanitarian Humanitarianism is an active belief in the value of human life, whereby humans practice benevolent treatment and provide assistance to other humans, in order to improve the conditions of humanity for moral, altruistic and logical reasons. Humani ...
concerns of
reformists Reformism is a political doctrine advocating the reform of an existing system or institution instead of its abolition and replacement. Within the socialist movement, reformism is the view that gradual changes through existing institutions can eve ...
. He traces the cultural shifts that led to the predominance of prison via the body and power. Prison used by the "disciplines" – new technological powers that can also be found, according to Foucault, in places such as schools, hospitals, and military barracks.Schwan, A., & Shapiro, S. (2011). How to read Foucault's discipline and punish. London : Pluto Press, 2011. From the late 17th century and during the 18th century, popular resistance to
public execution A public execution is a form of capital punishment which "members of the general public may voluntarily attend." This definition excludes the presence of a small number of witnesses randomly selected to assure executive accountability. The purpose ...
and
torture Torture (from Latin ''tortus'': to twist, to torment) is the act of deliberately inflicting severe physical or psychological suffering on someone by another as a punishment or in order to fulfill some desire of the torturer or force some action ...
became more widespread both in Europe and in the United States. Particularly under the
Bloody Code The "Bloody Code" was the system of crimes in England in the 18th and early 19th centuries. It was not referred to as such in its own time, but the name was given later owing to the sharply increased number of people given the death penalty, even ...
, with few sentencing alternatives, imposition of the death penalty for petty crimes, such as theft, was proving increasingly unpopular with the public; many jurors were refusing to convict defendants of petty crimes when they knew the defendants would be sentenced to death. Rulers began looking for means to punish and control their subjects in a way that did not cause people to associate them with spectacles of tyrannical and sadistic violence. They developed systems of
mass incarceration . Incarceration in the United States is a primary form of punishment and rehabilitation for the commission of felony and other offenses. The United States has the largest prison population in the world, and the highest per-capita incarceration r ...
, often with hard labor, as a solution. The prison reform movement that arose at this time was heavily influenced by two somewhat contradictory philosophies. The first was based in Enlightenment ideas of
utilitarianism Utilitarianism is a family of normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals. Although different varieties of utilitarianism admit different characterizations, the basic idea ...
and
rationalism In philosophy, rationalism is the epistemological view that "regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge" or "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification".Lacey, A.R. (1996), ''A Dictionary of Philosophy' ...
, and suggested that prisons should simply be used as a more effective substitute for public corporal punishments such as whipping, hanging, etc. This theory, referred to as '' deterrence'', claims that the primary purpose of prisons is to be so harsh and terrifying that they deter people from committing crimes out of fear of going to prison. The second theory, which saw prisons as a form of '' rehabilitation'' or ''moral reform'', was based on religious ideas that equated crime with sin, and saw prisons as a place to instruct prisoners in Christian morality, obedience and proper behavior. These later reformers believed that prisons could be constructed as humane institutions of moral instruction, and that prisoners' behavior could be "corrected" so that when they were released, they would be model members of society. The concept of the modern prison was imported to Europe in the early 19th-century. Punishment usually consisted of physical forms of punishment, including capital punishment,
mutilation Mutilation or maiming (from the Latin: ''mutilus'') is cutting off or causing injury to a body part of a person so that the part of the body is permanently damaged, detached or disfigured. Terminology In 2019, Dr. Michael H. Stone, Dr. Gary Bruc ...
,
flagellation Flagellation (Latin ''flagellum'', "whip"), flogging, whipping or lashing is the act of beating the human body with special implements such as whips, lashes, rods, switches, the cat o' nine tails, the sjambok, the knout, etc. Typically, flo ...
(whipping),
branding Branding may refer to: Physical markings * Making a mark, typically by charring: ** Wood branding, permanently marking, by way of heat, typically of wood (also applied to plastic, cork, leather, etc.) ** Livestock branding, the marking of animals t ...
, and non-physical punishments, such as
public shaming Public humiliation or public shaming is a form of punishment whose main feature is dishonoring or disgracing a person, usually an offender or a prisoner, especially in a public place. It was regularly used as a form of judicially sanctioned punishme ...
rituals (like the
stocks Stocks are restraining devices that were used as a form of corporal punishment and public humiliation. Form and application The stocks, pillory, and pranger each consist of large wooden boards with hinges; however, the stocks are distinguished ...

stocks
). From the Middle Ages up to the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe, imprisonment was rarely used as a punishment in its own right, and prisons were mainly to hold those awaiting trial and convicts awaiting punishment. However, an important innovation at the time was the Bridewell House of Corrections, located at
Bridewell Palace Bridewell Palace in London was built as a residence of King Henry VIII and was one of his homes early in his reign for eight years. Given to the City of London Corporation by his son King Edward VI for use as an orphanage and place of correcti ...
in London, which resulted in the building of other houses of correction. These houses held mostly petty offenders, vagrants, and the disorderly local poor. In these facilities the inmates were given "
prison labor Penal labour is a generic term for various kinds of unfree labour which prisoners are required to perform, typically manual labour. The work may be light or hard, depending on the context. Forms of sentence involving penal labour have included ...
" jobs that were anticipated to shape them into hardworking individuals and prepare them for the real world. By the end of the 17th century, houses of correction were absorbed into local prison facilities under the control of the local justice of the peace.


Transportation, prison ships and penal colonies

England used
penal transportation Penal transportation or transportation was the relocation of convicted criminals, or other persons regarded as undesirable, to a distant place, often a colony, for a specified term; later, specifically established penal colonies became their de ...
of
convict A convict is "a person found guilty of a crime and sentenced by a court" or "a person serving a sentence in prison". Convicts are often also known as "prisoners" or "inmates" or by the slang term "con", while a common label for former convicts, e ...
ed criminals (and others generally young and poor) for a term of
indentured servitude Indentured servitude is a form of forced labor in which a person (an indenture) is forced to work without salary for a specific number of years for eventual compensation or debt repayment. Historically, it has been used to punish and relocate cap ...
within the general population of
British America British America comprised the colonial territories of the British Empire in America from 1607 to 1783. These colonies were formally known as British America and the British West Indies before the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence in ...

British America
between the 1610s and 1776. The
Transportation Act 1717 The Transportation Act 1717 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain that established a regulated, bonded system to transport criminals to colonies in North America for indentured service, as a punishment for those convicted or attained in Grea ...
made this option available for lesser crimes, or offered it by discretion as a longer-term alternative to the death penalty, which could theoretically be imposed for the growing number of offenses in Britain. The substantial expansion of transportation was the first major innovation in eighteenth-century British penal practice. Transportation to America was abruptly suspended by the Criminal Law Act 1776 (16 Geo. 3 c.43) with the start of the American Rebellion. While sentencing to transportation continued, the act instituted a punishment policy of
hard labour Penal labour is a generic term for various kinds of unfree labour which prisoners are required to perform, typically manual labour. The work may be light or hard, depending on the context. Forms of sentence involving penal labour have included ...
instead. The suspension of transport also prompted the use of prisons for punishment and the initial start of a prison building program. Britain would resume transportation to specifically planned
penal colonies Penal is a town in south Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago. It lies south of San Fernando, Princes Town, and Debe, and north of Moruga, Morne Diablo and Siparia. It was originally a rice- and cocoa-producing area but is now a rapidly expanding and deve ...
in Australia between 1788 and 1868. Jails at the time were run as business ventures, and contained both felons and debtors; the latter were often housed with their wives and younger children. The jailers made their money by charging the inmates for food, drink, and other services, and the system was generally corruptible. One reform of the seventeenth century was the establishment of the ''London
Bridewell Bridewell Palace in London was built as a residence of King Henry VIII and was one of his homes early in his reign for eight years. Given to the City of London Corporation by his son King Edward VI for use as an orphanage and place of correcti ...
'' as a
house of correction The house of correction was a type of establishment built after the passing of the Elizabethan Poor Law (1601), places where those who were "unwilling to work", including vagrants and beggars, were set to work. The building of houses of correction ...
for women and children. It was the first facility to make any medical services available to prisoners. With the widely used alternative of
penal transportation Penal transportation or transportation was the relocation of convicted criminals, or other persons regarded as undesirable, to a distant place, often a colony, for a specified term; later, specifically established penal colonies became their de ...
halted in the 1770s, the immediate need for additional penal accommodations emerged. Given the undeveloped institutional facilities, old sailing vessels, termed '' hulks'', were the most readily available and expandable choice to be used as places of temporary confinement. While conditions on these ships were generally appalling, their use and the labor thus provided set a precedent which persuaded many people that mass incarceration and labor were viable methods of crime prevention and punishment. The turn of the 19th century would see the first movement toward
prison reform A prison (also known as a jail or gaol (dated, British, Australian, and to a lesser extent Canadian English), penitentiary (American English), detention center (or centre if outside the US), correction center (American English), correctional ...
, and by the 1810s, the first state prisons and correctional facilities were built, thereby inaugurating the modern prison facilities available today. France also sent criminals to overseas penal colonies, including
Louisiana Louisiana (, ); Standard French: ' ; es, Luisiana is a state in the Deep South and South Central regions of the United States. It is the 19th-smallest by area and the 25th most populous of the 50 U.S. states. Louisiana is bordered by the s ...

Louisiana
, in the early 18th century. Penal colonies in
French Guiana French Guiana ( or ; french: Guyane ) is an overseas department/region and single territorial collectivity of France on the northern Atlantic coast of South America in the Guianas. It borders Brazil to the east and south and Suriname to the wes ...
operated until 1952, such as the notable
Devil's Island The penal colony of Cayenne (French: ''Bagne de Cayenne''), commonly known as Devil's Island (''Île du Diable''), was a French penal colony that operated in the 19th and 20th century in the Salvation Islands of French Guiana. Opened in 1852, t ...
(''Île du Diable'').
Katorga Katorga ( rus, ка́торга, p=ˈkatərgə; from medieval and modern Greek: ''katergon, κάτεργον'', "galley") was a system of penal labor in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union (see Katorga labor in the Soviet Union). Prisoners were ...
prisons were harsh work camps established in the 17th century in
Russia Russia (russian: link=no, Россия, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the largest country in the world, covering and encompassing more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited l ...
, in remote underpopulated areas of
Siberia Siberia (; rus, Сибирь, r=Sibir', p=sʲɪˈbʲirʲ, a=Ru-Сибирь.ogg) is an extensive geographical region spanning much of Northern Asia. Siberia has been part of modern Russia since the latter half of the 16th century. Novosibirsk is th ...
and the
Russian Far East Koryaksky volcano in Kamchatka The Russian Far East ( rus, Дальний Восток России, r=Dal'niy Vostok Rossii, p=ˈdalʲnʲɪj vɐˈstok rɐˈsʲiɪ, literally: "The Far East of Russia") is a region in North Asia which includes the F ...
, that had few towns or food sources. Siberia quickly gained its fearful connotation of punishment.


Prison reform movement

John Howard John Winston Howard (born 26 July 1939) is an Australian former politician who served as the 25th Prime Minister of Australia (1996–2007) and Leader of the Liberal Party (1985–1989; 1995–2007). His nearly twelve-year tenure as Prime Mini ...
was one of the most notable early
prison reform A prison (also known as a jail or gaol (dated, British, Australian, and to a lesser extent Canadian English), penitentiary (American English), detention center (or centre if outside the US), correction center (American English), correctional ...
ers. After having visited several hundred prisons across England and Europe, in his capacity as high sheriff of
Bedfordshire Bedfordshire (; abbreviated Beds) is a county in the East of England. It is a ceremonial county and a historic county, covered by three unitary authorities: Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, and Luton. Bedfordshire is bordered by Cambridgeshire to t ...
, he published ''The State of the Prisons'' in 1777. He was particularly appalled to discover prisoners who had been acquitted but were still confined because they could not pay the jailer's fees. He proposed wide-ranging reforms to the system, including the housing of each prisoner in a separate cell and the requirements that staff should be professional and paid by the government, that outside inspection of prisons should be imposed, and that prisoners should be provided with a healthy diet and reasonable living conditions. The prison reform charity, the
Howard League for Penal Reform The Howard League for Penal Reform is a registered charity in the United Kingdom. It is the oldest penal reform organisation in the world, named after John Howard. It was founded as the Howard Association in 1866 and changed its name in 1921, f ...
, was established in 1866 by his admirers. Following Howard's agitation, the
Penitentiary ActThe Penitentiary Act (19 Geo. III, c.74) was a British Act of Parliament passed in 1779 which introduced a policy of state prisons for the first time. The Act was drafted by the prison reformer John Howard and the jurist William Blackstone and recomm ...
was passed in 1779. This introduced solitary confinement, religious instruction, a labor regime, and proposed two state penitentiaries (one for men and one for women). However, these were never built due to disagreements in the committee and pressures from wars with France, and jails remained a local responsibility. But other measures passed in the next few years provided magistrates with the powers to implement many of these reforms, and eventually, in 1815, jail fees were abolished.
Quakers Quakers, also called Friends, belong to a historically Protestant) set of denominations known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. Members of various Quaker societies generally share a belief in the ability of each person to experien ...
were prominent in campaigning against and publicizing the dire state of the prisons at the time.
Elizabeth Fry Elizabeth Fry (née Gurney; 21 May 1780 – 12 October 1845), sometimes referred to as Betsy Fry, was an English prison reformer, social reformer and, as a Quaker, a Christian philanthropist. She has been called the "angel of prisons". Fry was ...

Elizabeth Fry
documented the conditions that prevailed at
Newgate prison Newgate Prison was a prison at the corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey Street just inside the City of London, England, originally at the site of Newgate, a gate in the Roman London Wall. Built in the 12th century and demolished in 1904, t ...
, where the ladies' section was overcrowded with women and children, some of whom had not even received a trial. The inmates did their own cooking and washing in the small cells in which they slept on straw. In 1816, Fry was able to found a prison school for the children who were imprisoned with their parents. She also began a system of supervision and required the women to sew and to read the Bible. In 1817, she helped found the Association for the Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate.


Development of the modern prison

The theory of the modern prison system was born in London, influenced by the
utilitarianism Utilitarianism is a family of normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals. Although different varieties of utilitarianism admit different characterizations, the basic idea ...
of
Jeremy Bentham Jeremy Bentham (; 15 February 1748 Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="nowiki/>O.S._4_February_1747.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Old Style and New Style ...
. Bentham's
panopticon The panopticon is a type of institutional building and a system of control designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow all prisoners of an institution to be ob ...

panopticon
introduced the principle of observation and control that underpins the design of the modern prison. The notion of prisoners being incarcerated as part of their punishment and not simply as a holding state until trial or hanging, was at the time revolutionary. His views influenced the establishment of the first prisons used as criminal rehabilitation centers. At a time when the implementation of capital punishment for a variety of relatively trivial offenses was on the decline, the notion of incarceration as a form of punishment and correction held great appeal to reform-minded thinkers and politicians. In the first half of the 19th century, capital punishment came to be regarded as inappropriate for many crimes that it had previously been carried out for, and by the mid-19th century, imprisonment had replaced the death penalty for the most serious offenses except for murder. The first state prison in England was the
Millbank Prison Millbank Prison was a prison in Millbank, Westminster, London, originally constructed as the National Penitentiary, and which for part of its history served as a holding facility for convicted prisoners before they were transported to Australia. It ...
, established in 1816 with a capacity for just under 1,000 inmates. By 1824, 54 prisons had adopted the disciplinary system advocated by the SIPD. By the 1840s,
penal transportation Penal transportation or transportation was the relocation of convicted criminals, or other persons regarded as undesirable, to a distant place, often a colony, for a specified term; later, specifically established penal colonies became their de ...
to Australia and the use of hulks was on the decline, and the
Surveyor-General#REDIRECT Surveyor general {{Redirect category shell, {{R from move ...
of convict prisons,
Joshua Jebb Sir Joshua Jebb, (8 May 1793 – 26 June 1863) was a Royal Engineer and the British Surveyor-General of convict prisons. He participated in the Battle of Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain during the War of 1812, and surveyed a route between Ottawa R ...
, set an ambitious program of prison building in the country, with one large prison opening per year.
Pentonville prison HM Prison Pentonville (informally "The Ville") is an English Category B men's prison, operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service. Pentonville Prison is not in Pentonville, but is located further north, on the Caledonian Road in the Barnsbury area of ...
opened in 1842, beginning a trend of ever increasing incarceration rates and the use of prison as the primary form of crime punishment. Robert Peel's Gaols Act of 1823 introduced regular visits to prisoners by chaplains, provided for the payment of jailers and prohibited the use of irons and manacles. In 1786, the state of Pennsylvania passed a law which mandated that all convicts who had not been sentenced to death would be placed in penal servitude to do public works projects such as building
roads A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places that has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by foot or by some form of conveyance (including a motor vehicle, cart, bicycle, or horse). Roads consist of one or two ...
,
forts A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from Latin ''fortis'' ("strong") and ''facere'' ( ...
, and mines. Besides the economic benefits of providing a free source of hard labor, the proponents of the new penal code also thought that this would deter criminal activity by making a conspicuous public example of consequences of breaking the law. However, what actually ended up happening was frequent spectacles of disorderly conduct by the convict work crews, and the generation of sympathetic feelings from the citizens who witnessed the mistreatment of the convicts. The laws quickly drew criticism from a humanitarian perspective (as cruel, exploitative and degrading) and from a utilitarian perspective (as failing to deter crime and delegitimizing the state in the eyes of the public). Reformers such as
Benjamin Rush Benjamin Rush (April 19, 1813) was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence and a civic leader in Philadelphia, where he was a physician, politician, social reformer, humanitarian, and educator and the founder of Dickinson Colle ...

Benjamin Rush
came up with a solution that would enable the continued used of forced labor, while keeping disorderly conduct and abuse out of the eyes of the public. They suggested that prisoners be sent to secluded "houses of repentance" where they would be subjected (out of the view of the public) to "bodily pain, labour, watchfulness, solitude, and silence ... joined with cleanliness and a simple diet".
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( ) ( pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern, and Appalachian regions of the United States. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland ...
soon put this theory into practice, and turned its old jail at Walnut Street in
Philadelphia Philadelphia, colloquially Philly, is a city in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States. It is the sixth-most populous city in the United States and the most populous city in the state of Pennsylvania, with a 2019 estimated population o ...
into a state prison, in 1790. This prison was modeled on what became known as the "Pennsylvania system" (or "separate system"), and placed all prisoners into solitary cells with nothing other than religious literature, and forced them to be completely silent to reflect on their wrongs.
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the Northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * ''Ne ...
soon built the Newgate state prison in Greenwich Village, which was modeled on the Pennsylvania system, and other states followed. But, by 1820, faith in the efficacy of legal reform had declined, as statutory changes had no discernible effect on the level of crime, and the prisons, where prisoners shared large rooms and booty including alcohol, had become riotous and prone to escapes. In response, New York developed the
Auburn system The Auburn system (also known as the New York system and Congregate system) is a penal method of the 19th century in which persons worked during the day in groups and were kept in solitary confinement at night, with enforced silence at all times. T ...
in which prisoners were confined in separate cells and prohibited from talking when eating and working together, implementing it at
Auburn State Prison Auburn Correctional Facility is a state prison on State Street in Auburn, New York, United States. It was built on land that was once a Cayuga village. It is classified as a maximum security facility. History Constructed in 1816 as Auburn Prison ...
and
Sing Sing Sing Sing Correctional Facility is a maximum-security prison operated by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision in the village of Ossining, New York. It is about north of New York City on the east bank of the Huds ...

Sing Sing
at Ossining. The aim of this was rehabilitative: the reformers talked about the penitentiary serving as a model for the family and the school and almost all the states adopted the plan (though Pennsylvania went even further in separating prisoners). The system's fame spread and visitors to the U.S. to see the prisons included de Tocqueville who wrote ''
Democracy in America ''De La Démocratie en Amérique'' (; published in two volumes, the first in 1835 and the second in 1840) is a classic French text by Alexis de Tocqueville. Its title translates as ''On Democracy in America'', but English translations are usually ...
'' as a result of his visit. The use of prisons in
Continental Europe Mainland or continental Europe is the contiguous continent of Europe, excluding its surrounding islands. It can also be referred to ambiguously as the European continent, – which can conversely mean the whole of Europe – and, by some, s ...
was never as popular as it became in the
English-speaking world#REDIRECT English-speaking world ...
, although state prison systems were largely in place by the end of the 19th century in most European countries. After the unification of Italy in 1861, the government reformed the repressive and arbitrary prison system they inherited, and modernized and secularized criminal punishment by emphasizing discipline and deterrence. Italy developed an advanced penology under the leadership of
Cesare Lombroso Cesare Lombroso (, also ; ; born Ezechia Marco Lombroso; 6 November 1835 – 19 October 1909) was an Italian criminologist, phrenologist, physician, and founder of the Italian School of Positivist Criminology. Lombroso rejected the establishe ...
(1835–1909). Another prominent prison reformer who made important contributions was
Alexander PatersonAlexander Paterson may refer to: * Alexander Paterson (Australian politician) (1844–1908), independent member of the Australian House of Representatives * Alexander Paterson (penologist) (1884–1947), British penologist * Alexander Paterson (bish ...
who advocated for the necessity of humanizing and socializing methods within the prison system in Great Britain and America.


Design


Security

Prisons are normally surrounded by fencing, walls, earthworks, geographical features, or other barriers to prevent escape. Multiple barriers,
concertina wire Concertina wire or Dannert wire is a type of barbed wire or razor wire that is formed in large coils which can be expanded like a concertina (a small hand-held bellows-type instrument in the same family as the accordion). In conjunction with pl ...

concertina wire
, electrified fencing, secured and defensible main gates, armed guard towers, security lighting,
motion sensors Motion detection is the process of detecting a change in the position of an object relative to its surroundings or a change in the surroundings relative to an object. It can be achieved by either mechanical or electronic methods. When it is done by ...
,
dogs The domestic dog (''Canis familiaris'' or ''Canis lupus familiaris'') is a domesticated form of wolf. The dog descended from an ancient, extinct wolf, with the modern grey wolf being the dog's nearest living relative. The dog was the first sp ...
and roving patrols may all also be present depending on the level of security. Remotely controlled doors,
CCTV Closed-circuit television (CCTV), also known as video surveillance, is the use of video cameras to transmit a signal to a specific place, on a limited set of monitors. It differs from broadcast television in that the signal is not openly tran ...
monitoring, alarms, cages,
restraints Modern Hiatt Speedcuffs Physical restraint refers to means of purposely limiting or obstructing the freedom of a person's bodily movement. Basic methods Usually, binding objects such as handcuffs, legcuffs, ropes, chains, straps or straitja ...
, nonlethal and lethal weapons, riot-control gear and physical segregation of units and prisoners may all also be present within a prison to monitor and control the movement and activity of prisoners within the facility. Modern prison designs have increasingly sought to restrict and control the movement of prisoners throughout the facility and also to allow a smaller prison staff to monitor prisoners directly, often using a decentralized "podular" layout. (In comparison, 19th-century prisons had large landings and cell blocks which permitted only intermittent observation of prisoners.) Smaller, separate and self-contained housing units known as "pods" or "modules" are designed to hold 16 to 50 prisoners and are arranged around exercise yards or support facilities in a decentralized "campus" pattern. A small number of prison officers, sometimes a single officer, supervise each pod. The pods contain tiers of cells arranged around a central control station or desk from which a single officer can monitor all the cells and the entire pod, control cell doors and communicate with the rest of the prison. Pods may be designed for high-security "indirect supervision", in which officers in segregated and sealed control booths monitor smaller numbers of prisoners confined to their cells. An alternative is "direct supervision", in which officers work within the pod and directly interact with and supervise prisoners, who may spend the day outside their cells in a central "dayroom" on the floor of the pod. Movement in or out of the pod to and from exercise yards, work assignments or medical appointments can be restricted to individual pods at designated times and is generally centrally controlled. Goods and services, such as meals, laundry,
commissary A commissary is a government official charged with oversight or an ecclesiastical official who exercises in special circumstances the jurisdiction of a bishop. In many countries, the term is used as an administrative title. In some armed forces, ...
, educational materials, religious services and medical care can increasingly be brought to individual pods or cells as well. Some modern prisons may exclude certain inmates from the general population, usually for safety reasons, such as those within solitary confinement, celebrities, political figures and former law enforcement officers, those convicted of sexual crimes and/or crimes against children, or those on the medical wing or protective custody.


Inmate security classifications

Generally, when an inmate arrives at a prison, they go through a security classification screening and risk assessment that determines where they will be placed within the prison system. Classifications are assigned by assessing the prisoner's personal history and criminal record, and through subjective determinations made by intake personnel (which include mental health workers, counselors, prison unit managers, and others). This process will have a major impact on the prisoner's experience, determining their security level, educational and work programs, mental health status (e.g. will they be placed in a mental health unit), and many other factors. This sorting of prisoners is one of the fundamental techniques through which the prison administration maintains control over the inmate population. Along with this it creates an orderly and secure prison environment. At some prisons, prisoners are made to wear a
prison uniform A prison uniform is the unified outward appearance of detainees in a situation of imprisonment. It is typically adapted under constraint. Usually a prison uniform consists of a visually distinct garment, which must be worn by an incarcerated per ...
. The levels of security within a prison system are categorized differently around the world, but tend to follow a distinct pattern. At one end of the spectrum are the most secure facilities ("maximum security"), which typically hold prisoners that are considered dangerous, disruptive or likely to try to escape. Furthermore, in recent times, supermax prisons have been created where the custody level goes beyond maximum security for people such as terrorists or
political prisoners A political prisoner is someone imprisoned because they have opposed or criticized the government responsible for their imprisonment. The term is used by persons or groups challenging the legitimacy of the detention of a prisoner. Supporters of ...
deemed a threat to
national security Ronald Reagan in a briefing with National Security Council staff on the Libya bombing on 15 April 1986 National security or national defence is the security and defence of a nation state, including its citizens, economy, and institutions, which ...
, and inmates from other prisons who have a history of violent or other disruptive behavior in prison or are suspected of
gang A gang is a group or society of associates, friends or members of a family with a defined leadership and internal organization that identifies with or claims control over territory in a community and engages, either individually or collectively ...
affiliation. These inmates have individual cells and are kept in
lockdown A lockdown is a restriction policy for people or community to stay where they are, usually due to specific risks to themselves or to others if they can move and interact freely. The term "stay-at-home" or "shelter-in-place" is often used for lo ...
, often for more than 23 hours per day. Meals are served through "chuck-holes" in the cell door, and each inmate is allotted one hour of outdoor exercise per day, alone. They are normally permitted no contact with other inmates and are under constant surveillance via closed-circuit television cameras. On the other end are "minimum security" prisons which are most often used to house those for whom more stringent security is deemed unnecessary. For example, while
white-collar crime The term "white-collar crime" refers to financially motivated, nonviolent crime committed by businesses and government professionals. It was first defined by the sociologist Edwin Sutherland in 1939 as "a crime committed by a person of respecta ...
rarely results in incarceration—when it does, offenders are almost always sent to minimum-security prisons due to them having committed nonviolent crimes. Lower-security prisons are often designed with less restrictive features, confining prisoners at night in smaller locked dormitories or even cottage or cabin-like housing while permitting them free movement around the grounds to work or activities during the day. Some countries (such as Britain) also have "open" prisons where prisoners are allowed home-leave or part-time employment outside of the prison. Suomenlinna Island facility in Finland is an example of one such "open" correctional facility. The prison has been open since 1971 and, as of September 2013, the facility's 95 male prisoners leave the prison grounds on a daily basis to work in the corresponding township or commute to the mainland for either work or study. Prisoners can rent flat-screen televisions, sound systems, and mini-refrigerators with the prison-labor wages that they can earn—wages range between 4.10 and €7.30 per hour. With electronic monitoring, prisoners are also allowed to visit their families in Helsinki and eat together with the prison staff. Prisoners in Scandinavian facilities are permitted to wear their own clothes.


Common facilities

Modern prisons often hold hundreds or thousands of inmates, and must have facilities onsite to meet most of their needs, including dietary, health, fitness, education, religious practices, entertainment, and many others. Conditions in prisons vary widely around the world, and the types of facilities within prisons depend on many intersecting factors including funding, legal requirements, and cultural beliefs/practices. Nevertheless, in addition to the cell blocks that contain the prisoners, also there are certain auxiliary facilities that are common in prisons throughout the world.


Kitchen and dining

Prisons generally have to provide food for a large number of individuals, and thus are generally equipped with a large institutional kitchen. There are many security considerations, however, that are unique to the prison dining environment. For instance, cutlery equipment must be very carefully monitored and accounted for at all times, and the layout of prison kitchens must be designed in a way that allows staff to observe activity of the kitchen staff (who are usually prisoners). The quality of kitchen equipment varies from prison to prison, depending on when the prison was constructed, and the level of funding available to procure new equipment. Prisoners are often served food in a large cafeteria with rows of tables and benches that are securely attached to the floor. However, inmates that are locked in control units, or prisons that are on "lockdown" (where prisoners are made to remain in their cells all day) have trays of food brought to their cells and served through "chuck-holes" in the cell door. Prison food in many
developed countries 450px, Classifications by the IMF and the UN in 2008.A developed country, industrialized country (or post-industrial country), more developed country (MDC), or more economically developed country (MEDC), is a sovereign state that has a high q ...
is nutritionally adequate for most inmates.


Healthcare

Prisons in wealthy, industrialized nations provide medical care for most of their inmates. Additionally, prison medical staff play a major role in monitoring, organizing, and controlling the prison population through the use of psychiatric evaluations and interventions (psychiatric drugs, isolation in mental health units, etc.). Prison populations are largely from poor minority communities that experience greater rates of chronic illness, substance abuse, and mental illness than the general population. This leads to a high demand for medical services, and in countries such as the US that don't provide tax-payer funded healthcare, prison is often the first place that people are able to receive medical treatment (which they couldn't afford outside). Prison medical facilities include
primary care Primary care may be provided in community health centres. Primary care is the day-to-day healthcare given by a health care provider. Typically this provider acts as the first contact and principal point of continuing care for patients within a hea ...
,
mental health Mental health, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to ma ...
services, dental care,
substance abuse Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is the use of a drug in amounts or by methods which are harmful to the individual or others. It is a form of substance-related disorder. Differing definitions of drug abuse are used in public health, m ...
treatment, and other forms of specialized care, depending on the needs of the inmate population. Health care services in many prisons have long been criticized as inadequate, underfunded, and understaffed, and many prisoners have experienced abuse and mistreatment at the hands of prison medical staff who are entrusted with their care. In the United States, a million people who are incarcerated suffer from mental illness without any assistance or treatment for their condition and the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend, known as the rate of recidivism, is unusually high for those with the most serious disorders. Analysis of data in 2000 from several forensic hospitals in California, New York and Oregon found that with treatment the rate of recidivism was "much lower" than untreated mentally ill offenders.


Library and educational facilities

Some prisons provide educational programs for inmates that can include basic literacy, secondary education, or even college education. Prisoners seek education for a variety of reasons, including the development of skills for after release, personal enrichment and curiosity, finding something to fill their time, or trying to please prison staff (which can often secure early release for good behavior). However, the educational needs of prisoners often come into conflict with the security concerns of prison staff and with a public that wants to be "tough on crime" (and thus supports denying prisoners access to education). Whatever their reasons for participating in educational programs, prison populations tend to have very low literacy rates and lack of basic mathematical skills, and many have not completed secondary education. This lack of basic education severely limits their employment opportunities outside of prison, leading to high rates of recidivism, and research has shown that prison education can play a significant role in helping prisoners reorient their lives and become successful after reentry. Many prisons also provide a library where prisoners can check out books, or do legal research for their cases. Often these libraries are very small, consisting of a few shelves of books. In some countries, such as the United States, drastic budget cuts have resulted in many
prison libraries Libraries are provided in many prisons. Reading materials are provided in almost all federal and state correctional facilities in the United States. Libraries in federal prisons are controlled by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Department of J ...
being shut down. Meanwhile, many nations that have historically lacked prison libraries are starting to develop them. Prison libraries can dramatically improve the quality of life for prisoners, who have large amounts of empty time on their hands that can be occupied with reading. This time spent reading has a variety of benefits including improved literacy, ability to understand rules and regulations (leading to improved behavior), ability to read books that encourage self-reflection and analysis of one's emotional state, consciousness of important real-world events, and education that can lead to successful re-entry into society after release.


Recreation and fitness

Many prisons provide limited recreational and fitness facilities for prisoners. The provision of these services is controversial, with certain elements of society claiming that prisons are being "soft" on inmates, and others claiming that it is cruel and dehumanizing to confine people for years without any recreational opportunities. The tension between these two opinions, coupled with lack of funding, leads to a large variety of different recreational procedures at different prisons. Prison administrators, however, generally find the provision of recreational opportunities to be useful at maintaining order in the prisons, because it keeps prisoners occupied and provides leverage to gain compliance (by depriving prisoners of recreation as punishment). Examples of common facilities/programs that are available in some prisons are: gyms and weightlifting rooms, arts and crafts, games (such as cards, chess, or bingo), television sets, and sports teams. Additionally, many prisons have an outdoor recreation area, commonly referred to as an "exercise yard".


Control units

Most prisoners are part of the "general population" of the prison, members of which are generally able to socialize with each other in common areas of the prison. A ' or ' (also called a "block" or "isolation cell") is a highly secure area of the prison, where inmates are placed in
solitary confinement Solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment distinguished by living in single cells with little or no meaningful contact with other inmates, strict measures to control contraband, and the use of additional security measures and equipment. It ...
to isolate them from the general population. Other prisoners that are often segregated from the general population include those who are in
protective custody Protective custody (PC) is a type of imprisonment (or care) to protect a person from harm, either from outside sources or other prisoners. Many prison administrators believe the level of violence, or the underlying threat of violence within prison ...
, or who are on suicide watch, and those whose behavior presents a threat to other prisoners.


Other facilities

In addition to the above facilities, others that are common include prison factories and workshops, visiting areas, mail rooms, telephone and computer rooms, a prison store (often called a "canteen") where prisoners can purchase goods. Some prisons have a
death row#REDIRECT Death row {{R from other capitalisation ...
where prisoners who have been sentenced to death await execution and an execution room, where the death sentence is carried out. In places like Singapore and Malaysia, there is place for
corporal punishment Corporal punishment or physical punishment is a punishment intended to cause physical pain to a person. When practised on minors, especially in home and school settings, methods include spanking or paddling. When practised on adults, it may be ...
(carried out by caning).


Special types


Youth detention facilities

Prisons for juveniles are known by a variety of names, including "youth detention facilities", "juvenile detention centers", and "reformatories". The purpose of youth detention facilities is to keep young offenders away from the public, while working towards rehabilitation. The idea of separately treating youthful and adult offenders is a relatively modern idea. The earliest known use of the term "juvenile delinquency" was in London in 1816, from where it quickly spread to the United States. The first juvenile correctional institution in the United States opened in 1825 in New York City. By 1917, juvenile courts had been established in all but 3 states. It was estimated that in 2011 more than 95,000 juveniles were locked up in prisons and jails in the United States (the largest youth prisoner population in the world). Besides prisons, many other types of residential placement exist within juvenile justice systems, including youth homes, community-based programs, training schools and boot camps. Like adult facilities, youth detention centers in some countries are experiencing overcrowding due to large increases in incarceration rates of young offenders. Crowding can create extremely dangerous environments in juvenile detention centers and juvenile correctional facilities. Overcrowding may also lead to the decrease in availability to provide the youth with much needed and promised programs and services while they are in the facility. Many times the administration is not prepared to handle the large number of residents and therefore the facilities can become unstable and create instability in simple logistics. In addition to overcrowding, juvenile prisons are questioned for their overall effectiveness in rehabilitating youth. Many critics note high juvenile
recidivism Recidivism (; from ''recidive'' and ''ism'', from Latin ''recidīvus'' "recurring", from ''re-'' "back" and ''cadō'' "I fall") is the act of a person repeating an undesirable behavior after they have either experienced negative consequences o ...
rates, and the fact that the most of the youths that are incarcerated are those from lower socio-economic classes (who often suffer from broken families, lack of educational/job opportunities, and violence in their communities).


Women's prisons

In the 19th century, a growing awareness that female prisoners had different needs to male prisoners led to the establishment of dedicated prisons for women. In modern times, it is the norm for female inmates to be housed in either a separate prison or a separate wing of a unisex prison. The aim is to protect them from physical and sexual abuse that would otherwise occur. In the
Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, the Americas, and Australasia. For example, in federal women's correction facilities of the United States, 70% of guards are male. Rape and sexual offenses remain commonplace in many women's prisons, and are usually underreported. Two studies in the late 2000s noted that because a high proportion of female inmates have experienced sexual abuse in the past, they are particularly vulnerable to further abuse. The needs of mothers during pregnancy and childbirth often conflict with the demands of the prison system. The Rebecca Project, a non-profit organization that campaigns for women's rights issues, reports that "In 2007, the Bureau of Justice Statistics stated that, on average, 5% of women who enter into state prisons are pregnant and in jails ocal prisons6% of women are pregnant". The standard of care that female prisoners receive before and after giving birth is often far worse than the standard expected by the general population, and sometimes almost none is given. In some countries, female prisoners may be restrained while giving birth. In many countries including the United States, mothers will frequently be separated from their baby after giving birth.


Military prisons and prisoner-of-war camps

Prisons have formed parts of military systems since the French Revolution. France set up its system in 1796. They were modernized in 1852 and since their existence, are used variously to house prisoners of war,
unlawful combatant An unlawful combatant, illegal combatant or unprivileged combatant/belligerent is, according to United States law, a person who directly engages in armed conflict in violation of the laws of war and therefore not protected by the Geneva Conventions ...
s, those whose freedom is deemed a national security risk by military or civilian authorities, and members of the military found guilty of a serious crime. Military prisons in the United States have also been converted to civilian prisons, to include
Alcatraz Island Alcatraz Island (, Latin-American , European from ) is located in San Francisco Bay, offshore from San Francisco, California, United States. The small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a militar ...

Alcatraz Island
. Alcatraz was formerly a military prison for soldiers during the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between northern states loyal to the Union and southern states that had seceded to form the Confederate States of America. Th ...
. In the
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution which occurred in colonial North America between 1765 and 1783. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), ...
, British prisoners held by the U.S. were assigned to local farmers as laborers. The British kept American sailors in broken down ship hulks with high death rates. In the Napoleonic wars, the broken down hulks were still in use for naval prisoners. One French surgeon recalled his captivity in Spain, where scurvy, diarrhea, dysentery, and typhus abounded, and prisoners died by the thousands: :"These great trunks of ships were immense coffins, in which living men were consigned to a slow death.... n the hot weather we hadblack army bread full of gritty particles, biscuit full of maggots, salt meat that was already decomposing, rancid lard, spoiled cod,
nd#REDIRECT ND {{Redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalisation {{R from ambiguous term {{R unprintworthy ...
stale rice, peas, and beans." In the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between northern states loyal to the Union and southern states that had seceded to form the Confederate States of America. Th ...
, at first prisoners of war were released, after they promised not to fight again unless formally exchanged. When the Confederacy refused to exchange black prisoners the system broke down, and each side built large-scale POW camps. Conditions in terms of housing, food, and medical care were bad in the Confederacy, and the Union retaliated by imposing harsh conditions. By 1900 the legal framework of the Geneva and Hague Convention provided considerable protection. In the First World War, millions of prisoners were held on both sides, with no major atrocities. Officers received privileged treatment. There was an increase in the use of forced labor throughout Europe. Food and medical treatment were generally comparable to what active duty soldiers received, and housing was much better than front-line conditions.


Political prisons and administrative detention

Political prisoners are people who have been imprisoned because of their political beliefs, activities and affiliations. There is much debate about who qualifies as a "political prisoner". The category of "political prisoner" is often contested, and many regimes that incarcerate political prisoners often claim that they are merely "criminals". Others who are sometimes classified as "political prisoners" include prisoners who were politicized in prison, and are subsequently punished for their involvement with political causes. Many countries maintain or have in the past had a system of prisons specifically intended for political prisoners. In some countries, dissidents can be detained, tortured, executed, and/or "disappeared" without trial. This can happen either legally, or extralegally (sometimes by falsely accusing people and fabricating evidence against them). ''
Administrative detention Administrative detention is arrest and detention of individuals by the state without trial, usually for security reasons. Many countries use administrative detention as a means to combat terrorism or rebellion, to control illegal immigration, or t ...
'' is a classification of prisons or detention centers where people are held without trial.


Psychiatric facilities

Some
psychiatric Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders. These include various maladaptations related to mood, behaviour, cognition, and perceptions. See glossary of psychiatry. Initial psychi ...
facilities have characteristics of prisons, particularly when confining patients who have committed a crime and are considered dangerous. In addition, many prisons have psychiatric units dedicated to housing offenders diagnosed with a wide variety of
mental disorder A mental disorder, also called a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, is a behavioral or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning. Such features may be persistent, relapsing and remitting, or occ ...
s. The United States government refers to psychiatric prisons as " Federal Medical Centers (FMC)".


Prison population

Some jurisdictions refer to the prison population (total or per-prison) as the prison muster. In 2010, the International Centre for Prison Studies that at least 10.1 million people were imprisoned worldwide. the United States of America had the world's largest prison population, with over 2.3 million people in American prisons or jails—up from 744,000 in 1985—making 1 in every 100 American adults a prisoner. That same year it was also reported that the United States government spent an estimated US$37 billion to maintain prisons. CNBC estimated that the cost of maintaining the US prison system was US$74 billion per year. The United States still has one of, if not the world's largest prison population. This increases government spending on prisons. Not all countries have experienced a rise in prison population: Sweden closed four prisons in 2013 due to a significant drop in the number of inmates. The head of Sweden's prison and probation services characterized the decrease in the number of Swedish prisoners as "out-of-the-ordinary", with prison numbers in Sweden falling by around 1% a year since 2004.


Economics of the prison industry

In the United States alone, more than $74 billion per year is spent on prisons, with over 800,000 people employed in the prison industry. As the prison population grows, revenues increase for a variety of small and large businesses that construct facilities, and provide equipment (security systems, furniture, clothing), and services (transportation, communications, healthcare, food) for prisons. These parties have a strong interest in the expansion of the prison system since their development and prosperity directly depends on the number of inmates. The prison industry also includes private businesses that benefit from the exploitation of the prison labor. Some scholars, using the term prison-industrial complex, have argued that the trend of "hiring out prisoners" is a continuation of the slavery tradition, pointing out that the
Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution The Thirteenth Amendment (Amendment XIII) to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. The amendment was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the required 27 ...
freed slaves but allowed forced labor for people convicted of crimes.Kai, Jonathan (March 23, 2013). "The disgrace of America's prison-industrial complex". National Post. p. A22. Prisons are very attractive to employers, because prisoners can be made to perform a great array of jobs, under conditions that most free laborers wouldn't accept (and would be illegal outside of prisons): sub-minimum wage payments, no insurance, no collective bargaining, lack of alternative options, etc. Prison labor can soon deprive the free labor of jobs in a number of sectors, since the organized labor turns out to be uncompetitive compared to the prison counterpart.


Social effects


Internal

Prisons can be difficult places to live and work in, even in
developed countries 450px, Classifications by the IMF and the UN in 2008.A developed country, industrialized country (or post-industrial country), more developed country (MDC), or more economically developed country (MEDC), is a sovereign state that has a high q ...
in the present day. By their very definition, prisons house individuals who may be prone to violence and rule-breaking. It is also typical that a high proportion of inmates have mental health concerns. A 2014 US report found that this included 64% of local jail inmates, 54% of state prisoners and 45% of federal prisoners. The environment may be worsened by
overcrowding Overcrowding or crowding is the condition where more people are located within a given space than is considered tolerable from a safety and health perspective. Safety and health perspectives depend on current environments and on local cultural nor ...
, poor sanitation and maintenance,
violence Violence is the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy. Other definitions are also used, such as the World Health Organization's definition of violence as "the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or ...
by prisoners against other prisoners or staff, staff misconduct,
prison gang A prison gang is an inmate organization that operates within a prison system. It has a corporate entity and exists into perpetuity. Its membership is restrictive, mutually exclusive, and often requires a lifetime commitment. Prison officials and oth ...
s, self-harm, and the widespread smuggling of illegal drugs and other contraband. The social system within the prison commonly develops an "
inmate code Inmate Code (sometimes called "Convict Code") refers to the rules and values that have developed among prisoners inside prisons' social systems. The inmate code helps define an inmate's image as a model prisoner. The code helps to emphasize unity of ...
", an informal set of internal values and rules that govern prison life and relationships, but that may be at odds with the interests of prison management or external society, compromising future rehabilitation. In some cases, disorder can escalate into a full-scale
prison riot A prison riot is an act of concerted defiance or disorder by a group of prisoners against the prison administrators, prison officers, or other groups of prisoners. Prison riots have not been the subject of many academic studies or research inquiri ...
. Academic research has found that poor conditions tend to increase the likelihood of violence within prisons.


External

Prisoners can face difficulty re-integrating back into society upon their release. They often have difficulty finding work, earn less money when they do find work, and experience a wide range of medical and psychological issues. Many countries have a high recidivism rate. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 67.8% of released prisoners in the United States are rearrested within three years and 76.6% are rearrested within five years. If the prisoner has a family, they are likely to suffer socially and economically from their absence. If a society has a very high imprisonment rate, these effects become noticeable not just on family units, but also on entire poor communities. The expensive cost of maintaining a high imprisonment rate also costs money that must come at the expense of either the taxpayer or other government agencies.


Theories of punishment and criminality

A variety of justifications and explanations are put forth for why people are imprisoned by the state. The most common of these are: * Rehabilitation: Theories of rehabilitation argue that the purpose of imprisonment is to change prisoners' lives in a way that will make them productive and law-abiding members of society once they are released. The idea was promoted by 19th century reformers, who promoted prisons as a humane alternative to harsh punishments of the past. Many governments and prison systems have adopted rehabilitation as an official aim. In the United States and Canada, prison agencies are often referred to as "
Corrections In criminal justice, particularly in North America, correction, corrections, and correctional, are umbrella terms describing a variety of functions typically carried out by government agencies, and involving the punishment, treatment, and super ...
" services for this reason. * Deterrence: Theories of deterrence argue that by sentencing criminals to extremely harsh penalties, other people who might be considering criminal activities will be so terrified of the consequences that they will choose not to commit crimes out of fear. * Incapacitation: Theories of argue that while prisoners are incarcerated, they will be unable to commit crimes, thus keeping communities safer. * Retribution: Theories of argue that the purpose of imprisonment is to cause a sufficient level of misery to the prisoner, in proportion to the perceived seriousness of their crime. These theories do not necessarily focus on whether or not a particular punishment benefits the community, but instead are based upon a belief that some kind of moral balance will be achieved by "paying back" the prisoner for the wrongs they have committed.


Evaluation

Academic studies have been inconclusive as to whether high imprisonment rates reduce crime rates in comparison to low imprisonment rates; only a minority suggest it creates a significant reduction, and others suggest it increases crime. Prisoners are at risk of being drawn further into crime, as they may become acquainted with other criminals, trained in further criminal activity, exposed to further abuse (both from staff and other prisoners) and left with criminal records that make it difficult to find legal employment after release. All of these things can result in a higher likelihood of reoffending upon release. This has resulted in a series of studies that are skeptical towards the idea that prison can rehabilitate offenders. As Morris and Rothman (1995) point out, "It's hard to train for freedom in a cage." A few countries have been able to operate prison systems with a low recidivism rate, including
Norway Norway ( nb, ; nn, ; se, Norga; smj, Vuodna; sma, Nöörje), officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe whose mainland territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula. T ...
and
Sweden Sweden (; sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe.The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's formal name is the Kingd ...
. On the other hand, in many countries including the United States, the vast majority of prisoners are rearrested within 3 years of their release. Prison reform organizations such as the
Howard League for Penal Reform The Howard League for Penal Reform is a registered charity in the United Kingdom. It is the oldest penal reform organisation in the world, named after John Howard. It was founded as the Howard Association in 1866 and changed its name in 1921, f ...
are not entirely opposed to attempting to rehabilitate offenders, but instead argue that most prisoners would be more likely to be rehabilitated if they received a punishment other than prison. The
National Institute of Justice National may refer to: Common uses * Nation or country ** Nationality – a ''national'' is a person who is subject to a nation, regardless of whether the person has full rights as a citizen ** National (distribution), a type of product or publi ...
argues that offenders can be deterred by the fear of being caught but are unlikely to be deterred by the fear or experience of the punishment. Like Lawrence W. Sherman, they argue that better policing is a more effective way to reduce crime rates. The argument that prisons can reduce crime through incapacitation is more widely accepted, even among academics who doubt that prisons can rehabilitate or deter offenders. A dissenting argument from Arrigo and Milovanovic, who argue that prisoners will simply continue to victimize people inside of the prison and that this harm has impacts on the society outside.


Alternatives

Modern
prison reform A prison (also known as a jail or gaol (dated, British, Australian, and to a lesser extent Canadian English), penitentiary (American English), detention center (or centre if outside the US), correction center (American English), correctional ...
movements generally seek to reduce prison populations. A key goal is to improve conditions by reducing
overcrowding Overcrowding or crowding is the condition where more people are located within a given space than is considered tolerable from a safety and health perspective. Safety and health perspectives depend on current environments and on local cultural nor ...
. Prison reformers also argue that alternative methods are often better at rehabilitating offenders and preventing crime in the long term. Among the countries that have sought to actively reduce prison populations include Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands. Alternatives to prison sentences include: * Fines *
Community service Volunteers complete a cleanup of litter and trash Community service is unpaid work performed by a person or group of people for the benefit and betterment of their community without any form of compensation. Community service can be distinct fro ...
*
Suspended sentence A suspended sentence is a legal term for a judge's delaying of a defendant's serving of a sentence after they have been found guilty, in order to allow the defendant to perform a period of probation. If the defendant does not break the law durin ...
: The offender performs of a period of probation, and only serves a prison sentence if the terms of probation are broken. This is similar to the Canadian concept of a
conditional sentence Conditional sentences are sentences that express one thing contingent on something else, e.g. "If it rains, the picnic will be cancelled". They are so called because the impact of the main clause of the sentence is ''conditional'' on the dependent ...
. *
House arrest In justice and law, house arrest (also called home confinement, home detention, or, in modern times, electronic monitoring) is a measure by which a person is confined by the authorities to their residence. Travel is usually restricted, if allo ...
/
curfew A curfew is an order specifying a time during which certain regulations apply. Typically it is the time when individuals must stay indoors. Such an order may be issued by public authorities but also by the owner of a house to those living in the ...
s: Sometimes a condition of a strict suspended/conditional sentence. *Mandatory treatment for drug offenders. *Rehabilitation programs, such as
anger management 320px, An anger management course. Anger management is a psycho-therapeutic program for anger prevention and control. It has been described as deploying anger successfully.Schwarts, Gil. July 2006. Anger Management', July 2006 The Office Politic. Me ...
classes. *Mental health treatment for offenders with mental illness. *
Conditional discharge A discharge is a type of sentence imposed by a court whereby no punishment is imposed. An absolute discharge is an unconditional discharge whereby the court finds that a crime has technically been committed but that any punishment of the defendant ...
: The offender is not punished for the crime if they abide by certain conditions; typically they must not commit any further crimes within a designated period. *Other court orders that take away privileges from the offender, such as banning motoring offenders from driving. *
Restorative justice Restorative justice is an approach to justice in which one of the responses to a crime is to organize a meeting between the victim and the offender, sometimes with representatives of the wider community. The goal is for them to share their experi ...
programs, which overlap with the above methods. Restorative justice is based around arranging a mediation between the offender and victim, so that the offenders can take responsibility for their actions, "to repair the harm they've done—by apologizing, returning stolen money, or community service". When these alternatives are used, actual imprisonment may be used as a punishment for noncompliance. The
prison abolition movement The prison abolition movement is a network of groups and activists that seek to reduce or eliminate prisons and the prison system, and replace them with systems of rehabilitation that do not place a focus on punishment and government institutional ...
seeks to eliminate prisons altogether. It is distinct from
prison reform A prison (also known as a jail or gaol (dated, British, Australian, and to a lesser extent Canadian English), penitentiary (American English), detention center (or centre if outside the US), correction center (American English), correctional ...
, although abolitionists often support reform campaigns, regarding them as incremental steps towards abolishing prisons. The abolition movement is motivated by a belief that prisons are inherently ineffective and discriminatory. The movement is associated with
libertarian socialism Libertarian socialism, also referred to as anarcho-socialism, anarchist socialism, free socialism, stateless socialism, socialist anarchism and socialist libertarianism,Carlson, Jennifer D. (2012). "Libertarianism". In Miller, Wilburn R., ed. ''T ...
,
anarchism Anarchism is a political philosophy and movement that is sceptical of authority and rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of hierarchy. Anarchism calls for the abolition of the state, which it holds to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harm ...
and
anti-authoritarianism Anti-authoritarianism is opposition to authoritarianism, which is defined as "a form of social organisation characterised by submission to authority", "favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom" and ...
, with some prison abolitionists arguing that imprisoning people for actions the state designates as crimes is not only inexpedient but also immoral.


See also


Notes


References


Further reading

* * Diiulio, John J.
''Governing Prisons: A Comparative Study of Correctional Management''
Simon & Schuster Simon & Schuster () is an American publishing company and a subsidiary of ViacomCBS founded in New York City in 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. As of 2016, Simon & Schuster was the third largest publisher in the United States, pu ...
, 1990. . * * * * Fisher, George. "The birth of the prison retold." ''Yale Law Journal'' 104.6 (1995): 1235–1324
online free
* * * * * * * * * * * * Skarbek, David. 2020. ''The Puzzle of Prison Order: Why Life Behind Bars Varies Around the World''. Oxford University Press. * * * SpearIt, Economic Interest Convergence in Downsizing Imprisonment (2014). University of Pittsburgh Law Review, Vol. 25, 2014. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2608698 * SpearIt, Shackles Beyond the Sentence: How Legal Financial Obligations Create a Permanent Underclass (July 9, 2015). 1 Impact 46 (2015). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2628977 * * * * *


External links


Federal Bureau of Prisons

Priston Radio Official website
{{Authority control Penology
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