Located on two sites a half-mile (1 km) apart in SE Perth, HM Prison Perth houses short term adult male prisoners (those prisoners serving under 4 years), mainly fine defaulters and those on remand from the courts of Angus, City of Dundee, Perth & Kinross and the northern part of Fife. There is also a secure unit for Category-A prisoners who are serving sentences of up to life imprisonment. The prison has a national unit that houses disruptive prisoners, where intensive staff/prisoner interaction occurs.
The main building, a half-mile (1 km) south of the city centre beyond the South Inch, was constructed by architect Robert Reid (1774 - 1856) in the early 19th Century to hold French prisoners captured during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1842, the building began service as a civilian prison and today represents Scotland's oldest prison still in use. It comprises five halls (labelled A to E) and has a capacity of 504 prisoners.
A second building, Friarton Hall, which was until 1999 a separate institution known as HM Prison Friarton, lies opposite the southern end of Moncrieffe Island, 1¼ miles (2 km) south southeast of the town centre. This modern building serves to prepare prisoners for open conditions and has a capacity of 89.