Imprisonment is the restraint of a person's liberty, for any cause whatsoever, whether by authority of the government, or by a person acting without such authority. In the latter case it is "false imprisonment". Imprisonment does not necessarily imply a place of confinement, with bolts and bars, but may be exercised by any use or display of force (such as placing one in handcuffs), lawfully or unlawfully, wherever displayed, even in the open street. People become prisoners, wherever they may be, by the mere word or touch of a duly authorized officer directed to that end. Usually, however, imprisonment is understood to imply an actual confinement in a jail or prison employed for the purpose according to the provisions of the law.[1]

Sometimes gender imbalances occur in imprisonment rates, with incarceration of males proportionately more likely than incarceration of females.



Before colonisation, imprisonment was used in sub-Saharan Africa for pre-trial detention, to secure compensation and as a last resort but not generally as punishment, except in the Songhai Empire (1464–1591) and in connection with the slave trade.[2][3] In the colonial period, imprisonment provided a source of labor and a means of suppression.[2] The use of imprisonment has continued to the present day.[3]


Incarceration in what became known as Australia was introduced through colonization. As noted by scholar Thalia Anthony, the Australian settler colonial state has engaged in carceral tactics of containment and segregation against Aboriginal Australians since colonizers first arrived, "whether that be for Christian, civilizing, protectionist, welfare, or penal purposes." When settlers arrived, they invented courts and passed laws without consent of Indigenous peoples that stated that they had jurisdiction over them and their lands. When Indigenous peoples challenged these laws, they were imprisoned.[4]

England and Wales

In English law, imprisonment is the restraint of a person's liberty.[5] The 17th century book Termes de la Ley contains the following definition:

Imprisonment is no other thing than the restraint of a man's liberty, whether it be in the open field, or in the stocks, or in the cage in the streets or in a man's own house, as well as in the common gaols; and in all the places the party so restrained is said to be a prisoner so long as he hath not his liberty freely to go at all times to all places whither he will without bail or mainprise or otherwise.[6]

Imprisonment without lawful cause is a tort called false imprisonment.[7] In England and Wales, a much larger proportion of the black population is imprisoned than of the white.[8]


Release from imprisonment may occur when a prison sentence has been served, conditionally such as on probation, or for humanitarian reasons.[9] Prisoners of war may be released as a result of the end of hostilities or a prisoner exchange. Prisoners serving a full life or indefinite sentence may never be released.[10]

Released prisoners maybe suffer from issues including psychiatric disorders, criminalized behaviours and access to basic needs. Post release resources may be provided by the authorities.[11] Various factors have been investigated as to their influence on post-release recidivism, such as family and other relationships, employment, housing and ability to quit drug use. [12]

See also


  1. "Imprisonment". The New International Encyclopedia. Second Edition. Dodd, Mead and Company. New York. 1915. Volume XII. Page 35.
  2. Sarkin, Jeremy (December 2008). "Prisons in Africa: An Evaluation from a Human Rights Perspective" (PDF). International Journal on Human Rights. 5: 24.
  3. Isaac Weldesellasie, Kebreab (2017). Chernor Jalloh, Charles; Bantekas, Ilias (eds.). The International Criminal Court and Africa. Oxford University Press. pp. 253–254. ISBN 9780198810568.
  4. Anthony, Thalia (2019). "Settler-Colonial Governability: The Carceral Webs Woven by Law and Politics". In Nakata, Sana (ed.). Questioning Indigenous-Settler Relations: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Springer Singapore. pp. 33–40. ISBN 9789811392054.
  5. Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice. 1999. Chapter 5. Section II. "Sentences of Imprisonment".
  6. John Rastell. Termes de la Ley. 1636. Page 202. Digital copy from Google Books.
  7. Clerk and Lindsell on Torts. Sweet and Maxwell. Sixteenth Edition. 1989. Paragraph 17-15 at page 972.
  8. Flynn, Nick (1998). Introduction to Prisons and Imprisonment. Introductory Series. Winchester: Waterside Press. p. 79. ISBN 9781872870373. Retrieved 19 August 2019. Black people are eight times more likely to be in prison than whites. Home Office figures show that the incarceration rate for black people is 1,162 per 100,000, compared to 146 per 100,000 for whites.
  9. "Compassionate Release/Reduction in Sentence: Procedures for Implementation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 3582(c)(1)(A) and 4205(g)" (PDF). United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 September 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  10. "Types of prison sentences: Life sentences". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2022-04-29.
  11. Stanton, Ann E.; Kako, Peninnah; Sawin, Kathleen J. (2016). "Mental Health Issues of Women After Release from Jail and Prison: A Systematic Review". Issues in Mental Health Nursing. 37 (5): 299–331. doi:10.3109/01612840.2016.1154629. PMID 27100407. S2CID 35846437.
  12. "The Reentry Process: How Parolees Adjust to Release from Prison". Retrieved 2022-04-29.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.