Prison Timeline - History

  • 2nd century BC - Records found at many Egyptian and Mesopotamian archeological sites proved the existence of the earliest prisons in the world.
  • 600 BC - The remains of the oldest known prison can be traced to the Ancient Rome and their "CarcereMamertino" (Mamertine Prison). Originally designed as a cistern for water, this ancient prison was used for more than half millennia. One of its most famous prisoners was Gallic chieftain Vercingetorix (executed at 46 BC).
  • 200 AD - At the beginning of the new millennium, one of the oldest prisons outside Roman Empire was found in the Israeli town of Tiberias.
  • 1166 - English king Henry II commissioned the construction of first prison, together with new legal system that used concept of jury.
  • 1215 - King John signed Magna Carta, which started the new age of legal system in England. This historic document stated that no man could be imprisoned without trial.
  • 1400s - England establishes Houses of Correction, which housed growing number of homeless people.
  • 1600s - Growing number of English prisoners gave birth to the "military pardon".
  • 1700s - Environment of Industrial Revolution and Napoleonic wars brought great increase in the number of incrassated people in England. For the first time empty ships were used to house prisoners.
  • 1777 - Englishman John Howard published influential book that proposed prison reform.
  • 1786-1791 - Over 50.000 prisoners was transported from the England to the North American continent and after the start of War of Independence to penal colony of Australia.
Picture Of Old Prison Cells
  • 1779 -Penitentiary Act included the concept of the "rehabilitation" to the UK prisons.
  • 1791 - Philosopher Jeremy Bethamcreated designs for his "perfect prison", where government could spy on unknowing inmates.
  • 1815 - For the first time in history, UK government started paying the wages of Jailers and inspected conditions in prisons.
  • 1817 - Elizabeth Fry fought for prison reform, solutions of the problem of overcrowding, women's prisons and children correction centers.
  • 1829 - Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia started enforcing solitary confinement in an effort to rehabilitate its prisoners.
  • 1835 - Prison Inspectors first started working in UK, together with first prison volunteer teachers.
  • 1877 - Prison Act brought all prisons under the rule of the UK government.
  • 1890 - Great amounts of insane, suicidal and catatonic prisoners brought some concerns to the legal system that enforced mandatory solitary confinement in US prisons.
  • 1902 - In this year, first reform school for delinquent boys is opened in Borstal, Kent.
  • 1934 - American government opened Alcatraz prison for the nation's worst offenders. Located in the bay of San Francisco, this famous prison became part of the American history.
  • 1948 - UK Criminal Justice Act created a model of all modern prisons.
  • 1983 - This year marked the first occurrence of "permanent lockdown" mode in US prisons (23h long periods of cell isolation, with communal yard time for all inmates, work, educational programs and meals in cafeteria).
  • 1989 - Pelican Bay prison in California was built for the sole purpose of holding inmates in isolation, thus becoming first supermax facility in the USA.
  • 1991 - The Criminal Justice Act introduced the concept of "Probation Service" for all prisoners that served the sentence that was longer than 12 months.
  • 1993 - Modern UK Prison Service was formed.
  • 2002 - Administration of the American president George W. Bush formed the famous Guantanamo Bay detention camp, which held many war suspects fromwar in Afghanistan, Iraq and 9/11 terrorist incident.
  • 2005 - America held over 40 supermax facilities who all enforced constant 23-hour periods of isolation.
Picture Of Old Prison Cells
Picture Of Old Alcatraz
Picture Of Auschwitz Birkenau Prison Camps