The prisons of the Planiverse are feared in a way we can barely begin to know.

The prison consists of a long subterranean corridor inhabited by guards. The cells are rectangular rooms arranged directly above the corridor, attached to the corridor with portals locked from the outside. It is through these portals that prisoners are brought into their cells, and through which a daily portion of food is given to the convicts. There is a single narrow tube ascending from each cell straight up to the surrface, and it is this tube through which all of the air and light by which the prisoner will live are delivered. The tube must be narrow, to prevent contraband from being lowered to convicts, and this narrowness makes the convict's life a delicate thing. If an inconsiderate Ardean should happen to stand on the opening of the tube for too long, the prisoner will suffocate. Similarly, a cave-in in the tube is almost always fatal, and without any way to protect from floods, many prisoners drown in their cells.

All this is regarded with a sense of smug justice by most Punizlans; their moral code apparently holds the lives of criminals in extremely low standing, and the attendant atrocities of incarceration are regarded as part of the punishment for breaking one's contract with society.

The dark, fragile existences of prisoners make them pale, fearful, and weak for lack of exercise-- the prisoner's physique is immediately recognizable to any Ardean, and is considered disgusting in the extreme. The physical and emotional strain of incarceration is so overwhelming that the most common form of death in prisons is suicide, traditionally committed by lodging an item of one's meal into the tube and suffocating to death. Prisoners receive no funeral; their bodies are removed, the tube is most likely cleared of whatever obstruction claimed the prisoner, and another prisoner fills in the gap.

It is very rare for a prisoner to survive incarceration. When a member of the family is imprisoned, the family mourns him as though dead.

Those extremely few who manage to serve their terms usually die within a year of their release, due to an essentially hopeless financial situation, and having spent years in a dark space barely wide enough to pace across, they have few employable skills to offer to society, and more likely than not they are mentally unstable to boot.