Show Summary Details

Page of

 Printed from Grove Art Online. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 14 November 2019


  • Thomas A. Markus


Building for secure confinement, especially of criminals or those awaiting trial. Prisons have existed since Classical times, but a distinct building type emerged in the West in the 18th century, stimulated by new social and reforming ideas on the care and rehabilitation of offenders. In Britain, for example, such reforming groups as the Quakers and Utilitarians advanced a theory of correction over physical retribution, and the custodial sentence became a recognized alternative to corporal or capital punishment. Stylistically, prison design nevertheless continued to express the purposes of security and punishment through weight, strength and austerity in classical or castellated Gothic forms. Heavy rustication, barred windows, imposing entrance gates and battlements have been consistent characteristics.

Early prisons were for the confinement of those awaiting trial or execution, or for the enforcement of debt repayment. They were also used for torture, for military purposes—both for captives and for the punishment of soldiers—and in monasteries by the beginning of the 13th century. These prisons were dark dungeons, either underground or built into walls or fortification turrets. Sforzinda, ...

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Please subscribe to access the full content.