penitentiary(redirected from penitentiaries)
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place of confinement for the punishment and rehabilitation of criminals. By the end of the 18th cent. imprisonment was the chief mode of punishment for all but capital crimes.
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Place for the imprisonment of inmates and for their reformation through discipline and work.
1. (in the US and Canada) a state or federal prison: in Canada, esp a federal prison for offenders convicted of serious crimes
2. RC Church
a. a cleric appointed to supervise the administration of the sacrament of penance in a particular area
b. a priest who has special faculties to absolve particularly grave sins
c. a cardinal who presides over a tribunal that decides all matters affecting the sacrament of penance
d. this tribunal itself
3. US and Canadian (of an offence) punishable by imprisonment in a penitentiary