A prison, also known as a prison house, jail, or penitentiary, was one of several forms of punishment after committing a crime in which an individual was confined against their will and deprived of various personal freedoms. A prison used for short periods of confinement was known as a jail. Prisons aboard starships and starbases were known as brigs or holding cells, which were typically used as short-term prisons, or for the containment of unprocessed fugitives.

Klingon philosophy indicated that, if taken prisoner, a Klingon should kill himself rather than be held prisoner, unless there were enemies to fight or hope of escape. (DS9: "In Purgatory's Shadow")

Tuvok once opined that if all species were as enlightened as Vulcans, there would be no need for prisons. (VOY: "Random Thoughts")

As part of a bluff to the con artist Dala, Tuvok described the prisons of the Telsians as barely habitable, with inmates often dying of malnutrition, and torture and disease both being commonplace. (VOY: "Live Fast and Prosper")

Types of prisons

Noted prisons


The Argrathi Authority used prisons that were, in reality, interactive programs that created an artificial reality filled with memories of things that never actually happened, modeled to fit each offender's personality. The Argrathi used this form of punishment as they found it more efficient and more effective than maintaining an extensive prison system.

Miles O'Brien was incarcerated in an Argrathi prison for twenty cycles, during which he experienced several horrific memories. In recalling his memories, he explained that the Argrathi guards did not care whether or not their prisoners lived or died, noting that sometimes they would starve the prisoners for days to weeks at a time. O'Brien learned to adapt to this situation by eating as little as possible and saving the rest, following the times that he was actually fed.

The Argrathi also demanded that all offenders have a dormancy period each night. Their policies indicated that "any offender still active during the dormancy period will be disciplined." Death, as a form of discipline, was not uncommon. (DS9: "Hard Time")


At one point prior to 2369 Quark was able to get Durg released from a Cardassian prison. (DS9: "The Passenger")


The Dominion converted an ultritium mine, located on an asteroid, into a prison that was later referred to as Internment Camp 371. This conversion included the addition of a dome and the consolidation of the mining barracks, where each formerly had its own life support system embedded in the walls. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light")

According to the writer's guide for the episode "In Purgatory's Shadow": "The Dominion isn't big on prisons, or on taking prisoners for that matter." Those that are imprisoned are usually "an elite group of POWs, people who the Dominion is especially curious about".


During a bizarre social experiment in 2268, during which Federation historian John Gill turned the Ekosian society into a replica of Nazi Germany, a security prison was established in the Ekosian capitol known as the Chancellery Detention Center. Here, members of the Zeon resistance movement were taken and tortured for information. When Captain James T. Kirk and his first officer Spock attempted to infiltrate the Ekosian Chancellery, they were discovered and taken to the Chancellery Detention Center. After being beaten, the two were due to be executed but were spared for one hour by Eneg (who was himself a member of the underground resistance). The two Starfleet officers then managed to escape with the help of crystals inside two wrist subcutaneous transponders. (TOS: "Patterns of Force")


The Federation penal system evolved to a point focusing more on rehabilitation rather than strictly outright punishment. Never the less, confinement for serious offenses was presumably still practiced where they occur. The uninhabitable planet Elba II operated a penal colony; because of its toxic atmosphere, escape would be fundamentally impossible. The Federation established penal colonies in various locations; including one on Earth.

Mokra Order

The Mokra Order had a detention facility in the north-east-corner of a city on a planet in the Delta Quadrant. The prison was subterranean and equipped with a force field which could not be penetrated by sensors. Several soldiers guarded the prisoners who were held in small cells equipped with force field which could shock anyone who tried to escape.

In 2372, B'Elanna Torres, Tuvok, and later Darod were held in this detention facility. Kathryn Janeway, posing as a prostitute, and Caylem were able to get inside the prison and free the prisoners. (VOY: "Resistance")

The passageway and holding cell scenes were filmed on Paramount Stage 1.

Other prisons

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