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Azkaban was a wizarding prison which served Britain and Ireland. It housed convicted criminals, who used to be guarded by Dementors until they defected. The prison was later guarded by Aurors.


The Dementor

Azkaban was guarded by Dementors for nearly four-hundred years until the end of the Second Wizarding War. They induced despair in prisoners until they gave up hope and a will to live. For short and long-term prisoners, their health deteriorated until they were completely insane.[1]

The prisoners were a food source for the Dementors in an effort to control their behaviour, and there were calls for conditions to be improved, but the Dementors were kept because Azkaban had a zero-breakout rate for centuries.[2]


Rubeus Hagrid described how he kept thinking about upsetting things in Azkaban, until he couldn't remember who he was and began to lose a will to live.[3] Dementors didn't want prisoners to ever leave, because they were losing food. Being free of Dementors again was like being "born again".[3]

In 1717, use of any of the Unforgivable Curses had an immediate life sentence in Azkaban unless it was done under the control of the Imperius Curse or under the permission of the government (e.g. Aurors had permission during the First Wizarding War to use these curses to subdue Death Eaters).[4]

Level of security around a prisoner was higher depending on who it was. Sirius Black was a top-security prisoner[5], and had Dementors outside the door day and night.[6]


During the First Wizarding War, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement (Barty Crouch Snr.) would not give suspected Death Eaters a trial and sentenced people to Azkaban before they had the chance to manipulate the court and feign being under the Imperius Curse. However, a lot of innocents were wrongfully imprisoned in Azkaban because it. An Auror, Alastor Moody was thought to have filled half the cells in Azkaban because he was successful at capturing Death Eaters.[7]

There were four known escapes. Barty Crouch Snr sentenced Barty Crouch Jnr to Azkaban during the First Wizarding War, but Mrs Crouch begged him to save their only child. He eventually agreed and snuck her in when she was dying. He switched her and their son using Polyjuice Potion. She soon died in Azkaban. and he kept was kept locked up at home for years.[8]

In July 1993[9], Cornelius Fudge gave Sirius Black a newspaper during an inspection[6], and he saw Peter Pettigrew in Animagus form on the front page.[10] Fudge was surprised by how calm and sane he was when he was inspecting.[6] Sirius escaped Azkaban in Animagus for, being very thin and able to get through bars[10], causing a three-year search.[2] At least 100 Dementors were stationed at Hogwarts School until June, when they gave a Kiss to a student (Harry Potter) and Fudge decided they had acted out of control and had to go back to Azkaban.[11]

In 1996, Dementors began to leave Azkaban because Voldemort had a better food source.[12] They enabled thirteen Death Eaters to breakout including Bellatrix Lestrange.[13] In 1997, another Death Eater breakout was covered up by the government.[14] The Dementors soon abandoned the prison completely[15] and fought for the Death Eaters in pivotal fights including the Battle of Hogwarts.[16] In 1997 to 1998, a Death Eater controlled government sentenced innocent Muggle-borns and supporters of Harry Potter to Azkaban.[17]

Known prisoners


Prisoner Years Reason(s) Sentence Fate
Percival Dumbledore
c. 1891 - ?
attacking a group of Muggles for no apparent reason.
Died in Azkaban
Marvolo Gaunt
1925 - 1926
attacking Ministry officials attempting to arrest his son.
6 months
Let go
Morfin Gaunt
1925 - 1928
Hexing Tom Riddle Snr. and resisting arrest.
3 years
c. 1942 - ?
Framed for the murders of the Riddle family.
Died in Azkaban

First Wizarding War

Prisoner Years Reason(s) Sentence Eventual status
bef. 1981 - 1996
Death Eater
Escaped in 1996.
Igor Karkaoff
 ? - c. 1981
Let go for identifying fellow Death Eaters
in/bef. 1981 - 1996
Death Eater who killed Marlene McKinnon and her family.
Escaped in 1996
Bartemius Crouch Jnr.
c. 1981 - before 1994
Death Eaters who tortured Frank and Alice Longbottom.
Escaped using Polyjuice Potion.
Bellatrix Lestrange
c. 1981 - 1996
Escaped in 1996.
Rodolphus Lestrange
Rabastan Lestrange
Antonin Dolohov
Death Eater who killed Gideon and Fabian Prewett.
Augustus Rookwood
Death Eater
Sirius Black
1981 - 1993
Supposed Death Eater who killed twelve Muggles and Peter Pettigrew (innocent).
Escaped in 1993.

Intermittence years

Prisoner Years Reason(s) Sentence Eventual status
Mrs Crouch
 ? - bef. 1994
Replaced her son, Barty Crouch Jnr.
Crouch Jnr.'s life sentence
Died in Azkaban
Rubeus Hagrid
1993 - 1993
Innocent who was accused of opening the Chamber of Secrets again.
Let go after two months

Second Wizarding War

Prisoner Years Reason(s) Sentence Eventual status
Sturgis Podmore[18]
1995 - 1996
attempting to break into the Department of Mysteries (under the Imperius Curse).
6 months
Let go
1996 - ?
Death Eater who took part in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.
unknown - probably life
unknown - possibly escaped in 1997
Lucius Malfoy
1996 - 1997
Escaped in 1997
Rabastan Lestrange
Rodolphus Lestrange
Walden Macnair
Mundungus Fletcher
Impersonating an Inferius
Let go or escaped in 1997
Innocent Muggle-borns
1997 - 1998
Imprisoned by Death Eaters for purportedly "stealing" their powers.
Let go or died in Azkaban

1998 -

Prisoner Years Reason(s) Sentence Eventual status
Dolores Umbridge
1998 - ?
Helping Death Eaters and misusing her power to imprison innocent Muggle-borns
unknown Death Eaters
Death Eaters who took part in the Battle of Hogwarts and other key fights during the Second Wizarding War

Behind the scenes

  • It's unknown why Hagrid was not sent to Azkaban when he was accused of opening the Chamber of Secrets the first time. It was thought in the wizarding world that whoever had been accused was sentenced to Azkaban.[19]

Notes and sources