Trials involving murder or manslaughter come before the
special court of Areopagus, and cannot well be discussed here, but most
other criminal cases are tried before the dicasts in much the same way
as a civil trial. When the law does not have a set penalty, the jury
virtually has to sentence the defendant after convicting him, choosing
between one of two proposed penalties. Greek courts can inflict death,
exile, fines, but almost never imprisonment. There is no "penitentiary"
or "workhouse" in Athens; and the only use for a jail is to confine
accused persons whom it is impossible to release on bail before their
trial. The Athens city jail ("The House," as it is familiarly
called—"Oikema") is a very simple affair, one open building, carelessly
guarded and free to visitors all through the daylight. The inmates have
to be kept in heavy fetters, otherwise they would be sure to take
flight; and indeed escapes from custody are somewhat common.