Prison (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
A public building used for the confinement of people convicted of serious crimes.
Prison is a place used for confinement of convicted criminals. Aside from the death penalty, a sentence to prison is the harshest punishment imposed on criminals in the United States. On the federal level, imprisonment or incarceration is managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a federal agency within the DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. State prisons are supervised by a state agency such as a department of corrections.
Confinement in prison, also known as a penitentiary or correctional facility, is the punishment that courts most commonly impose for serious crimes, such as felonies. For lesser crimes, courts usually impose short-term incarceration in a jail, detention center, or similar facility.
Confining criminals for long periods of time as the primary form of punishment is a relatively new concept. Throughout history, various countries have imprisoned criminal offenders, but imprisonment was usually reserved for pre-trial detention or punishment of petty criminals with a short term of confinement.
Using long-term imprisonment as the primary punishment for convicted criminals began in the United States. In the late eighteenth century, the nonviolent Quakers in Pennsylvania proposed long-term confinement as an alternative to CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. The...
(The entire section is 4072 words.)
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