A royal decree, dated February 1891, established three classes of prisons: judiciary prisons, for persons awaiting examination or persons sentenced to arrest, detention or seclusion for less than six months; penitentiaries of various kinds (ergastoli, case di reclusione, detenzione or custodia), for criminals condemned to long terms of imprisonment; and reformatories, for criminals under age and vagabonds.
The penitentiaries are at Huntsville and Rusk, and there is a reform school for juvenile offenders at Gainesville.
The state commission of prisons consists of seven members appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate for a term of four years, and the institutions under its supervision in 1910 were the Sing Sing State Prison,' at Ossining, the Auburn State Prison at Auburn, the Clinton State Prison at Dannemora, the New York State Reformatory at Elmira, the Eastern New York Reformatory at Napanoch, five county penitentiaries, and all other institutions for the detention of sane adults charged with or convicted of crime, or retained as witnesses or debtors.
In order to minimize competition between prison labour and free labour, articles manufactured in the state prisons, the reformatories and the penitentiaries, are sold only to the institutions and departments of the state and its political divisions.
Fort Madison is the seat of one of Iowa's penitentiaries.