Definition - What does Penitentiary mean?
A penitentiary is a prison where inmates who are convicted of crimes live while they serve the jail time associated with their crimes.
Penitentiaries are supervised by corrections officers and other members of law enforcement. They are designed to be secure so that inmates cannot escape, and so that their movements are restricted.
Justipedia explains Penitentiary
The length of time that an inmate must stay at a penitentiary depends on the severity of the crime and the sentence imposed by the judge. Generally, the more serious the crime, the longer the stay in the penitentiary. Crimes of rape, murder, pedophilia and other heinous crimes can result in penitentiary stays of years or even decades. Occasionally, a person can even be sentenced to life in a penitentiary. However, most penitentiary stays are temporary and the inmate leaves after serving his or her time.