Prison is a concept that most people rarely give much thought. Throughout history, imprisonment or incarceration was not used as punishment. Instead, prison was simply a place to confine and hold criminals until corporal or capital punishment could be administered. The Bible mentions prisons in Jerusalem. Even the story of Joseph, who most people associate with a “coat of many colors,” relates a tale of imprisonment in Egypt.
The contemporary idea of prison began in Britain, during the 19th century. The city of London gave birth to the first modern prison system. Jeremy Bentham originated the panopticon, a principle of observation and control that is still utilized in prison construction.