[Excerpt from a report commissioned by the Royal Spymaster]
The most striking characteristic one will notice when comparing incarceration facilities across the Isles is the outer walls themselves, or in some cases the lack thereof.
A well-known (and well-feared) prison such as Coldridge, with its long history as the principle prison for the capital city of Dunwall, has a number of physical barriers to keep prisoners from escaping or even attempting escape. Coldridge is housed in a single formidable structure, many stories tall, with tightly guarded gates and tiny individual cells that keep the prisoners separate, minimizing collusion. The prison is dominated by its high, gray walls, and as of late new technologies have been tested for deployment there, further adding to security. The height of modern incarceration, it's virtually unthinkable that one could escape from such a place.
Contrast this with the prisons of Tyvia located in the tundra at the center of that nation-state. At some of the labor camps in Tyvia, there are literally no walls. A prisoner exhausted from hard labor and without tools is unlikely to survive the harsh climate or the hungry packs of hounds that rove the frozen wastes. In fact, Tyvian prison authorities make it known that any prisoner is free to leave at any time. In all of recorded history, no one has made the remote walk across the snow and ice to the nearest city. Interestingly, those who leave are not pursued; they are considered free people, having effectively served their sentences.
Later installments in this series will cover the mines of Serkonos, where prisoners must work in order to survive, and the coastal island jails of Morley, surrounded by bitterly cold waters that are filled with ravenous hagfish.