A prison is an building where people who have been guilty and convicted of crimes are held. People are part of the criminal justice system of a country. Being sent to prison (which is called "imprisonment") is legal penalty that the state can give a person who is convicted of a crime by a court.
Prisons are run by the state (government). People held in prisons are called inmates or convicts. Other words for prison include "penitentiary", "jail" or "gaol" (pronounced like "jail"), and "correctional facility".
A person who has been charged with a crime may be sent to prison if the court thinks that the person may not come to their trial, or if the court thinks that the person may be a risk to the community.
In some countries, prisons are also used for political prisoners (people who disagree with the country's leader or government). In times of war, prisoners of war may also be held in prisons.
Prison buildings and facilities.
Male and female inmates are usually kept in separate locations or in separate prisons. Prisons are usually surrounded by walls and gates. There are usually many locked gates inside the prison to control the inmates.
The inmates sleep in small locked rooms called cells. Cells have a bunk bed, a toilet, and a sink. Inmates are allowed to leave their cell every day for exercise. Some inmates work in the prison during the day, either in a factory or doing cooking or cleaning. Law enforcement officers called prison guards watch the inmates. The manager of a prison is called the warden.
Prisons usually also include other buildings and facilities, such as a chapel, a library, an exercise yard, a gymnasium, an infirmary (small hospital), visiting rooms (for visits from family and lawyers), kitchens, and accommodation for prison staff.
Prisons for young people.
There are special prisons for people under the age of 18 who commit crimes. These inmates are called young offenders or juvenile offenders.
Prisons are a controversial topic that people have different views about.
Number of people in prison.
As of 2006, there are nine million people are currently in prison in the world. The United States currently has the most people in prison; there are more than 2 million people in prison.In 2002, both Russia and China also had over 1 million people in prison. In 2003, the United Kingdom had 73,000 people in prison; France and Germany having a similar number of people in prison.
Cultural references to prisons and prison life.
There are many books and poems about prisons or prison life, such as "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas, père and "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" by Oscar Wilde.
There have also been television programs, such as Prisoner (1979-1986) and Prison Break (2005-present).

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