Nearly every nation of Midian--outside of Osterre--uses some form of incarceration as part of its criminal justice system.
The Kingdom of Formour incarcerates its criminals under a sentence of hard labour. Most non-capital crime merits this punishment, outside of a few minor offences where a fine is generally sufficient. It is worth noting that everyone has a measure of equality to justice in this kingdom--noble, peasant, and foreigner all share the same fate under Formourian law. Every crime under Formourian criminal codes carries a maximum penalty, but the judge or nobleman trying the case is free to assess a lesser penalty. In practice, the length of incarceration is almost always at least half of the maximum term. The labour that condemned criminals undergo is generally for public works: bridges built, land cleared, walls repaired, roads grated, pauper's graves dug, streets cleaned, drainage ditches unslogged, carcasses cremated, sewers maintained, etc. Some work to support other Formourian criminals, such as by working fields that grow food for the convicts, clean the prisons, and similar supportive tasks. The Formourian view is that someone who has harmed society--by committing a crime--must then repay society. Jails in Formour are rather small, and always local. They serve two functions: housing condemned criminals overnight (they spend their days working), and holding someone briefly if a magistrate is not immediately available to hear the case.
The legal system of the Heldannic Confederation is as rough-around-the-edges as the Heldanns themselves. Justice is often what you can find for yourself. The basis for the responses to a crime is more long-standing traditions than written codes of law. The social contract for order in society is much more evident to the Heldanns than to citizens of most other nations. In the Confederation someone who feels that someone has wronged them has two possible choices to make. They can either ask their pledged lord to help settle the grievance, or deal with the problem directly themselves. Oftimes, the nobleman will tell the accusing party to handle the problem themselves. Rather than exact vengeance through direct violence, the accuser captures and holds the accused, holding them until a settlement can be reached. For example, if one of your neighbours is responsible for the death of one of your sheep, you and your brothers & friends capture and detain him, until he agrees to give you one of his sheep, or his family pays you at least equal value to release the accused sheep-killer. That is, what the Heldanns consider fair justice, other people might consider kidnapping and extortion. If you hold someone in captivity this way, their family & friends (or that person themself, somehow) has the same options of going to their pledged lord for assistance, or handling things on their own. Asking for aid in this way is only done when you simply cannot take care of the problem on your own, and few Heldannic men would dare ask for help for fear of seeming unmanly and incapable. There are no prisons anywhere in the Heldannic Confederation, and few are wealth and powerful (and generally angry) enough to have an entire room devoted to being a full-time dungeon. The Heldannic system may seem barbaric and chaotic, but the strong hold of tradition and an understood need for some social order makes this work at least as well as any country under the Rule of Law. However, a foreign visitor is often unaware of the cultural complexities and obligations of this system--such misunderstandings often spark heated political standoffs, and was in part responsible for at least one war with the Killian Empire.
Justice in the halls of the Dwarven Mountain Kings predominantly follows the Heldannic model. In fact, Heldannic tradition and culture is Dwarven tradition and culture. The Dwarves have had a stronger effect on the collective freeholds of the Confederation than the Humans and Trolls combined. Some of the Mountain Kingdoms that border both the Heldannic Confederation are officially part of the Kindom of Formour. The Dwarves in this bordering mountain range act as a buffer zone, keeping the opposing views of justice and incarceration from causing many political difficulties between Kingdom and Confederation. Legally, these Dwarves have recourse to Formour's system of jurisprudence, but when dealing with another Dwarf (and sometimes a Human or Troll of Heldannic nationality), will oftimes follow the traditional method of handling a grievance. During their enslavement under the Olde Empire, the Dwarves were largely moved from their mountainous homes and forced to work as farmers and labourers for the Hobgoblins. Such forced exile scattered many Dwarves far and wide, some even as far away as Suditerre. Some of these Dwarves were fortunate enough to escape this life of captivity and enslavement, and fled even further south into what are now the Elder Kingdoms. It is from these escaped Dwarven slaves that the Gnomes descended.
The Killian Empire's prisons are remarkably simple, and little effort is made to prevent escapes. Unlike the stone & concrete walls--with iron bars and strong locks--of prisons in nearby Formour, Killian jails look quite similar to peasant's huts. Reeds or thin wood are often all that separates a prisoner from freedom. Typically, only a single guard is posted, and he or she may be watching over several prison-huts. However, the punishment for escaping from Killian justice is singular: death. Such execution is immediate upon recapture, and there are no appeals or hesitation. Even for the most minor offences and most extenuating circumstances, the penalty for fleeing incarceration is a swift execution, by being slain on the spot. The overall Killian view is that a disruption of the social order must be dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible. The Killian Empire is unique among the northern nations in that their entire justice system is administered by their military. That is, the police force that originally captures you, the guard who watches over you, and the Bushi-Killian who runs you through with a spear should you anger her in any way, are all trained soldiers. The only exception to this is that the judge does not hold military rank, but most magistrates are Ra-Killian of noble birth. Also rather differently than their Formourian neighbours to the southwest, not all criminals under Killian justice are put to work at hard labour. In that nation, labour is considered an additional level of punishment; a minor crime may be punished by a fee and jail time, rather than work. Another aspect of Killian justice worth noting is that all criminals are considered non-persons. That is, even if someone was only imprisoned for a day, they may be executed on the spot for any reason. It may be due to this readiness to impose the maximum punishment that the Killian Empire is noted for its low crime rate.
Among the Elves, incarceration is the preferred form of punishment, almost to exclusion. The Elves do not execute (at least, not other Elves), and there is no unified currency needed to establish a system of fines. There are three large prisons in the Elven Homeland, and a few of the larger and more militant Houses have their own dungeons. All crimes under Elven common law have a set punishment for a term of incarceration. However, for these immortal folk, such a term may be for centuries or even potentially millenia. The longest-held prisoner in an Elven gaol was (and still is) Aaeleranoes the Unhinged. By the time this Elven serial killer was captured, he had slain 28 Elves (all but three of them children), 63 Faeries of various sorts, 3 Pixie children, over two dozen Goblins (for which he was not convicted, as the Pixies & Goblins weren't considered part of the Elven community), and two mocking birds, in addition to multiple non-murderous crimes. The Carcerus maxumum security panopticon prison was created specifically to hold him. To date, he has been imprisoned since the Second Eon AAS, and is not scheduled to be released until sometime in the Fourth Eon PAS. The Elves feel that no one is truly incorrigible, and given enough time to reflect on one's folly even the most terrible offender will truly repent and again become a productive member of society. This view is in large part due to Elven immortality. With a growth rate approaching nil, the Elves place a very high value on lifeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ at least with Elven life. Since criminals can potentially be given sentences of centuries, or even millennia, the theory is that anyone can change her ways granted enough time. Crime in the Elven Homeland is perhaps the lowest in all of the major nations, so there may be something to the theory. However, it must also be considered that there is a strong cultural bias among the Elves to be a useful member of their society. Also worth noting is that the trial for all crimes are heard by a noble of one of the Great Houses. There is no other authority, and these Houses are esentially governments unto themselves.
Further south, in the Byzant Empire, there are three forms of incarceration. One may be held captive in a prison--either as a criminal or a prisoner-of-war, enslavement, and a form of imprisonment unique to the now defunct city-state of what was then called Vridtown (this was prior to the Darkmouth Emirate's incorporation to the Empire). Punishment for necromancy in Vridtown consisted of being forced into imprisonment inside a small box, following dismemberment. This tiny prison was then catapulted into the deepest part of the harbour. This ensured that the captivity was permanent, regardless of whether the offending necromancer was mortal or Undead. It was possible to obtain a license to be a necromancer, but the actual practice of that art, or just knowing such forbidden knowledge if unlicensed, was punishable by the aforementioned incarceration & ejection. Most crimes in the Empire are punishable by fines. However, alternate forms of punishment, such as imprisonment or enslavement, are used if the accused cannot (or will not) pay the heavy fine. Purchasing a slave is not always legally or socially acceptable in all parts of the Byzant Empire, but the majority of the states at least allow a citizen to own and utilise slave labour. Such slavery may be for a limited time (seven years is common for debts or for unpaid fines), until a set condition is met (typically when a debt is fully repaid, difficult for a slave...), and in some cases slavery is for life. Several states of the Empire have laws that the child of a slave is also a slave, whose master then owns him or her forever. Treatment of slaves varies by location, and some states' laws consider a slave to be of no greater respect than a shoe or shovel, while others mandate that slaves at least be given some measure of dignity and protection, such that a master cannot abuse or slay his or her slaves on a whim. For slaves in many parts of the Byzant Empire, life is brutal, harsh, and short. At least one organisation does give slaves an unprecedented measure of authority and power: the Jaliq are an all-slave independent army. These tattooed warriors answer only to their own generals (and whomever hires them for mercenary work), and even those generals are themselves slaves--all Jaliq are owned by the organisation itself.
The Ogres, Trolls, & Olde World Goths of Osterre still have essentially tribal societies, and exile, rather than incarcerate or execute. This is quite the opposite of imprisonment, and is an extreme form of social ostracism. Someone deemed not worthy of sharing their lands is the same as not being worthy of sharing the same air, and is sent out into the wilderness where they often die in that harsh land. Minor crimes typically merit less extreme ostracism--such as the community refusing to speak to the offender--and any form of captivity for an offence is very rare, and most commonly is only done when someone has gone mad and must be contained for their own safety as well as that of the community.