From the birth of modern civilization in 3rd millennia BC, almost every major ancient civilization used concept of prisons as a mean to detain and remove personal freedoms of incarcerated people. In those early periods of history, prisons were often used as a temporary stopgap before sentencing to death or life of slavery, but as time went on and our civilization developed, prisons started morphing into correctional facilitiesthat started implementing the concept of rehabilitation and reform of prisoners.

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Hidd Prison in Bahrain

Hidd Prison in Bahrain

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Wars that engulfed the world in the beginning of 20th century brought the formation of large amounts of war prison camps and concentration camps. Most famous examples of those types of prisons happened during World War 2, when Nazi government formed over 300 detention centers in which political opponents, Jews, gypsies, criminals and others were detained without judicial process.

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The conditions in the European prisons remained harsh until English royalty started being more involved with their justice system. Henry II commissioned the construction of first prison in 1166, together with the first draft of English legal system that used concept of jury. One of the most historic prison legislation was introduced in 1215, when King John signed Magna Carta which stated that no man could be imprisoned without trial. With the rise of the industry between 16 and 18th century English prisons became overcrowded, and new penal measures started being implemented – military pardon and penal transportations (during the end of 18th century, over 50 thousand prisoners were transported from England to penal colonies in North America and Australia). France even continued their practice of penal colonies until the middle of 20th century (most notably in French Guiana and its infamous prison Devil’s Island), and Russia also used remote penal colonies in the frozen north-east Siberia.

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