Last Updated on October 26, 2021
Did you have a dream about being in jail or prison? Whether you dream that you or someone you know is in jail, learning the symbolism of being in jail or prison in your dream can help you better understand your current situation in your life to make positive changes.
What it Means to Dream About Jail or Prison
Having a dream about jail can symbolize freedom, guilt, fairness, judgment, and control. You may also be feeling confined or limited in some aspect of your life. Let’s explore these central themes in more detail.
To be locked up in jail means that your freedom has been taken away. When you have a dream about being in prison, you may feel as if you have lost freedom in some aspect of your waking life.
Freedom is a theme that is central to many aspects of our life. You may feel like you don’t have the freedom to truly do what you want to do. Someone else may be trying to control you or what happens to you. This could be a parent, a boss, a partner, or even society as a whole.
Think of how you may feel like your freedom is limited in your waking life. For example, you might be deeply in debt and this prevents you from moving forward and making changes in your life. You may feel like someone in your life is holding you back from doing the things you want to do.
Guilt and Punishment
Guilt/Punishment is another common theme that surfaces in dreams about being in jail and prison. In most cases, you don’t get thrown into jail unless you do something unlawful. In dreams, being in jail can symbolize your feelings of regret, remorse and guilt for something you did.
We as humans can feel guilt for a number of different things, whether they are serious crimes that cause harm to someone else or even mundane things like being rude or uncaring towards something.
Sometimes we feel guilty for things that are completely out of our control – something may have happened and you are beating yourself up with the what-ifs. You may be thinking, “If only I had done this differently, none of this would have happened this way.”
There are also many things in life that we may regret. You may regret doing something – or you may even regret things you did not do.
Think about what is currently happening in your life. Do you feel guilty about something? Do you wish you had done something differently? Do you have any feelings of regret about something that happened in the past?
Fairness, Righteousness, Judgment
If you dream that you or someone in your life is wrongly put in jail, it could mean that there is something in your life where you feel like you are not being treated fairly.
When you have a dream where you are thrown into jail for a crime you never committed, it could mean that you feel as if someone is unfairly judging you and punishing you in a circumstance in your life where you never did anything wrong.
If you are the person putting someone else in jail in the dream, it could mean that you are judging this person in real life – you are trying to correct a wrong.
Just as dreams about prison can mean freedom, they can also mean control. You may feel as if you don’t have any control over something in your life. In dreams where you are putting someone else in jail, it could mean that you are exerting control over someone else.
Ask yourself: Do you have control over your life? Do you feel like you are in control of your current situation?
What do the people around you think about how much control you have over things? Are they trying to exert more control over you or something that is happening in your waking life?
How to Interpret Your Dream About Jail and Prison
In order to best understand what this dream means for you personally, let’s take a look at some important considerations.
What did the prison look like?
The appearance of the prison can give you a lot of clues about what the dream is about.
A modern, clean, and well-lit prison can mean that the dream is about something very recent and fresh in your memory. This dream could mean that the truth about a situation or your feelings are coming to light and it is time to deal with the consequences. It could also symbolize that you need a modern approach to solving a situation in your life where you feel trapped.
Dreaming of a dark dungeon-like prison can mean that this is something that is rooted deep in your subconscious or is about feelings of remorse and regret about something in the past.
If you dream of being isolated in prison, whether the prison is on an island or you are in solitary confinement in the dream, it can mean that you feel alone in your situation. Others may not understand your desires for freedom or you may feel as if no one can help you deal with a situation in your life where you feel trapped.
What About the Prison Did You Notice in the Dream?
If you dreamt about barbed wire fencing and prison gates, it could mean that you feel as if you do not have control in a situation. You may feel as if someone else is preventing you from doing something you want to do in life.
If you dream about the cafeteria and prison food, it could mean that there is an area of your life that needs some extra care and attention. See the meaning of eating in dreams and food in dreams for more details.
Dreaming about reading a book or being in a library in prison could mean that you are seeking answers about something that has happened to you. You may feel as if you were treated unfairly and you are trying to make better sense of it. See the dream meaning of books.
Who Were You With in the Prison?
If you dream of a prison guard, it can mean that there is a person who is preventing you from doing what you want to do in life, or you may feel as if someone is judging and watching you.
If you dream about your family or friends being prisoners, it can represent events in your life where these people may have been treated unfairly or they treated you unfairly.
Dreaming of strangers in jail can mean that you may wish to seek others who have experienced a similar situation in your life. For example, if you dream about being in jail after suffering a loss, you may benefit greatly from attending a support group.
Our family and friends in dreams can sometimes represent themselves in the dream, but more often than not they are like actors on a stage and symbolize either part of yourself or something else. See dream meaning of family and characters as parts of ourselves in dreams for additional insight.
Things to Ask Yourself About This Dream
When you have a dream about prison, it can mean that you are in a situation where you do not have freedom or control, or you may have feelings of regret, guilt, or remorse.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Are you in a situation in life where you can’t do what you want to do?
- Is there someone trying to stop you from doing something that is important for you?
- Do you feel as if you have been wrongly judged in some circumstance of your life?
- Do you have feelings of regret, remorse, or guilt about something in your life? Are these feelings of regret preventing you from moving on?
- Is anyone in your life trying to control you? Is someone else trying to make you do something?
- Do you have any feelings of being limited or confined in life? Do you feel as if you have lost your freedom and independence in some aspect of your life?
Reflecting on these questions and writing about them in your dream journal will help you to better understand what your dream means.
Dreaming about being in jail or prison can be an upsetting dream to have, but understanding what it means can help you reflect on what is happening in your life so that you may make positive changes and seek help as needed.
You may also be interested in some of these related dream symbols:
Did you have a dream about being in jail or prison? What do you think it means? Share your dream in the comments section below!