A prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility is a place in which individuals are physically confined or interned and usually deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Prisons are conventionally institutions, which form part of the criminal justice system of a country, such that imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime.
In popular parlance of many countries, the term jail (gaol) is considered synonymous with prison, although legally these are often distinct institutions: typically jails are intended to hold persons awaiting trials or serving sentences of less than one year, whereas prisons host prisoners serving longer sentences.
A criminal suspect who has been charged with or is likely to be charged with a criminal offense may be held on remand in prison if he or she is denied, refused or unable to meet conditions of bail, or is unable to post bail. This may also occur where the court determines that the suspect is at risk of absconding before the trial, or is otherwise a risk to society. A criminal defendant may also be held in prison while awaiting trial or a trial verdict. If found guilty, a defendant will be convicted and may receive a custodial sentence requiring imprisonment.
Prisons may also be used as a tool of political repression to detain political prisoners, prisoners of conscience, and "enemies of the state", particularly by authoritarian regimes. In times of war or conflict, prisoners of war may also be detained in prisons. A prison system is the organizational arrangement of the provision and operation of prisons, and depending on their nature, may invoke a corrections system. Although people have been imprisoned throughout history, they have also regularly been able to perform prison escapes.
Only in the 19th century, beginning in Britain, did prisons as we know them today become commonplace. The modern prison system was born in London, as a result of the views of Jeremy Bentham. The notion of prisoners being incarcerated as part of their punishment, and not simply as a holding state till trial or hanging, was at the time revolutionary.
The first "modern" prisons of the early 19th Century were sometimes known by the term "penitentiary" (a term still used by some prisons in the USA today): as the name suggests, the goal of these facilities was that of penance by the prisoners, through a regimen of strict disciplines, silent reflections, and maybe forced and deliberately pointless labor on treadwheels and the like. This "Auburn system" of prisoner management was often reinforced by elaborate prison architectures, such as the separate system and the panopticon. It was not until the late 19th Century that rehabilitation through education and skilled labor became the standard goal of prisons.
Male and female prisoners are typically kept in separate locations or separate prisons altogether. Prison accommodation, especially modern prisons in the developed world, are often divided into wings. A building holding more than one wing is known as a "hall".
Amongst the facilities that prisons may have are:
Prisons are normally surrounded by fencing, walls, earthworks, geographical features, or other barriers to prevent escape. Multiple barriers, concertina wire, electrified fencing, secured and defensible main gates, armed guard towers, lighting, motion sensors, dogs, and roving patrols may all also be present depending on the level of security. Remotely controlled doors, CCTV monitoring, alarms, cages, restraints, 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, particularly those of high-security prisons, have sought to increasingly restrict and control the movement of prisoners throughout the facility while minimizing the corrections staffing needed to monitor and control the population. As compared to the traditional landing-cellblock-hall designs, many newer prisons are designed in a decentralized "podular" layout with individual self-contained housing units, known as "pods" or "modules", arranged around centralized outdoor yards in a "campus". The pods contain tiers of cells laid out in an open pattern arranged around a central control station from which a single corrections officer can monitor all of the cells and the entire pod. Control of cell doors, communications and CCTV monitoring is conducted from the control station as well. Movement out of the pod to the exercise yard or work assignments can be restricted to individual pods at designated times, or else prisoners may be kept almost always within their pod or even their individual cells depending upon the level of security. Goods and services, such as meals, laundry, commissary, educational materials, religious services and medical care can increasingly be brought to individual pods or cells as well.
Conversely, despite these design innovations, overcrowding at many prisons, particularly in the U.S., has resulted in a contrary trend, as many prisons are forced to house large numbers of prisoners, often hundreds at a time, in gymnasiums or other large buildings that have been converted into massive open dormitories.
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 freer movement around the grounds to work or activities during the day.
See Panopticon for a historical prison design that has influenced modern designs.
Effective rehabilitation programs reduce the likelihood of re-offense and recidivism. Effective programs are characterised by three things: first, they provide more hours for people with known offense risk factors (the Risk Principle); secondly, they address problems and needs that have a proven causal link to offending (the Needs Principle); and thirdly, they use cognitive-behavioural approaches (the Responsivity Principle). Providing rehabilitation to people at lower risk of reoffending results in a 3% reduction in reoffending, while providing rehabilitation to people with a high risk of reoffending is three times as effective, resulting in a 10% reduction in subsequent offending. Risk factors for reoffending are: age at first offense, number of prior offenses, level of family and personal problems in childhood and other historical factors, along with level of current needs related to offending. Those individuals who had many personal and family problems in childhood (particularly 19 or more), started offending before puberty, and have committed multiple priors are more likely to reoffend in future, according to longitudinal studies internationally.
In support of the Needs Principle:
Programs that specifically target criminogenic needs (causal needs and problems), see a 19% reduction in reoffending.
In support of the Responsivity Principle:
There is a 23% reduction in reoffending after participating in programs that use cognitive-behavioural methods to bring about changes in behaviour, thinking, and relationships.
When all three of these principles are effectively applied, the impact on offending is a 26-32% reduction. This is in comparison to a 3-7% increase in offending that is found with imprisonment.
Residential approaches—whether in prison or some other live-in option—tend to be less effective than non-residential approaches. These researchers found that effective programs delivered in the community were followed by a 35% reduction in reoffending, whereas effective programs delivered in residential settings (such as prisons and halfway houses) were followed by a 17% reduction in reoffending. One very likely reason for this is that for teens and adults, mixing with antisocial peers increases the risk of offending. In prison or residences inmates spend a great deal of time with other people immersed in criminal pursuits and beliefs, whereas in community-based programs there is more opportunity to mix with people involved in constructive, law-abiding activities. Antisocial peers in prisons and residences can form a very powerful pressure group, subtly and not so subtly influencing the behavior of other inmates.
As of 2006, it is estimated that at least 9.25 million people are currently imprisoned worldwide. It is believed that this number is likely to be much higher, in view of general under-reporting and a lack of data from various countries, especially authoritarian regimes.
In absolute terms, the United States currently has the largest inmate population in the world, with more than 2½ million or more than one in a hundred adults in prison and jails. Although the United States represents less than 5% of the world's population, over 25% of the people incarcerated around the world are housed in the American prison system. Pulitzer Prize winning author Joseph T. Hallinan wrote in his book Going Up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation, "so common is the prison experience that the federal government predicts one in eleven men will be incarcerated in his lifetime, one in four if he is black." In 2002, both Russia and China also had prison populations in excess of 1 million. By October 2006, the Russian prison population declined to 869,814 which translated into 611 prisoners per 100,000 population.
As a percentage of total population, the United States also has the largest imprisoned population, with 739 people per 100,000 serving time, awaiting trial or otherwise detained.
In March 2007, the United Kingdom had 80,000 inmates (up from 73,000 in 2003 and 44,000 in 1985) in its facilities, one of the highest rates among the western members of the European Union (EU) (a record formerly held by Portugal). The highest imprisonment rates among the larger EU members include that of Poland, which in August 2007 had about 90,000 inmates, i.e. 234 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants, while the highest rates are in the Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with estimated rates of 240, 292 and 333 respectively in 2006.
The high proportion of prisoners in some developed countries is from various causes, but the attitude towards drug-taking plays a considerable part. In undeveloped countries, rates of incarceration are often lower, though this is not a rule. In general, such societies have less goods to steal and a more community based social system, with less judicial law-enforcement. Also their economies may not support the high cost of incarceration.
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Many prisons in Australia were built by convict labour in the 1800s. During the 1990s, various state governments in Australia engaged private sector correctional corporations to build and operate prisons whilst several older government run institutions were decommissioned. Operation of Federal detention centres was also privatised at a time when a large influx of illegal immigrants began to arrive in Australia.
Germany has 194 prisons (of which 19 are open institutions). Official statistics showed 80,214 places on March 31 2007. On the same day, there were 75,719 prisoners (of which 13,168 pre-trial; 60,619 serving sentences; 1,932 others, i.e. mainly civil prisoners; 4,068 were female). This is less than the highest value of 81,176 prisoners on March 31 2003.
New Zealand currently maintains 19 prisons around the country. The Department of Corrections has an annual budget of NZD$748 million and assets worth over NZD$1.7 billion. Official statistics show (as of June 30 2007) that there are currently 7,605 prisoners within the New Zealand correctional system. (5,490 Sentenced Prisoners and 1,552 Remanded Prisoners) + 5,795 staff. Breakouts are only at 0.15 per 100 prisoners and there is a rate of only 15% positive drug results during random drug testing in NZ prisons.
The growth rate of imprisonment in Poland during 2006-2007 was approximately 4% annually, based on the August 2007 estimate of 90,199 prisoners and the June 2005 estimate of 82,572 prisoners.
Mail sent to inmates in violation of prison policies can cost inmates "gain time" and even lead to punishment. Most Department of Corrections websites provide detailed information regarding mail policies. These rules can even vary within a single prison depending on which part of the prison an inmate is housed. For example, death row and maximum security inmates are usually under stricter mail guidelines for security reasons.
There have been several notable challenges to prison corresponding services. The Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) stated that effective June 1, 2007, inmates would be prohibited from using pen pal websites citing concerns of fraud. Service providers such as WriteAPrisoner.com, together with the ACLU, plan to challenge the ban in Federal Court. Similar bans on an inmate's rights or a website's right to post such information has been ruled unconstitutional in other courts, citing First Amendment freedoms. Since most DOCs already post inmate information on their websites, critics claim this is a moot point. Inmates' ability to mail letters to other inmates has been limited by the courts. Inmate correspondence with members of society is typically encouraged because of the positive impact it can have on inmates, albeit under the guidelines of each institution and availability of letter writers.
Häxte Title: Overview study. An assistance to drug users in European prisons. Editor(s) Stover H Publisher: Lisbon: EMCDDA Publication Year: 2001 Pagination: 305p ISBN 1 902114 03 5 Call No. MO4, HK, VH4 Document Type Book Notes includes bibliographical references. A5, ringbound