We’ve covered crime in Skyrim extensively in our previous guides. We’ve brought you guides on how to deal with aggressive guards and guides on how to deal with bounties when you’ve been caught red-handed. Today’s guide is going to focus on one unpleasant aspect of Skyrim, its jails. Going to jail is just one of the few options you are presented with when you’ve broken the law in Skyrim, and the system received a major overhaul compared to the one we’ve seen in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Let’s see what happens when you go to jail in Skyrim.
Jailing in Skyrim depends on the hold in which you’ve committed a crime. For example, going to jail in Markarth means you have to find a way out of the notorious Cidhna Mine. If you commit a crime in Winterhold, you’re going to be left stranded on an island called “The Chill,” which serves as the hold’s prison. Some holds, like Whiterun, have a more familiar approach to jails. They simply lock you up in a dungeon.
Now that we’ve given you a brief overview of the jails in Skyrim, it’s time to analyze them in a bit more detail. If you want a guide through all of Skyrim’s jails and how to escape them, stay with us and keep reading!
What happens if you get taken to jail in Skyrim?
If you go to jail in Skyrim, you’re going to have to serve your time sentence or escape. The choice is yours, but escaping from jail is usually not the best approach because your bounty will not reset. Quite the contrary, 100 gold will be added to your bounty if you are caught escaping from jail. The only exception to this rule is The Chill, but we’re going to discuss Winterhold’s approach to prisons in a bit more detail later.
How long are you in jail for in Skyrim?
The sentence you have to serve depends on the crime you have committed or, rather, your accumulated bounty. But the maximum sentence you can get is seven days. However, this is not a free vacation since staying in jail clears your skills advancements. The longer you are in jail, the more skills are going to be affected more severely. Staying in jail for seven days means that all of your skills will be downgraded.
Do you lose your stuff when you go to jail?
Your stuff is taken away as soon as you are arrested, but every legitimate thing you own will be returned to you when you’re done serving your sentence. The exception to this rule is stolen items that are confiscated forever. If you attempt to break out of jail, you can always retrieve both stolen and legitimately owned items by looting chests in the guard’s quarters of every jail.
How many jails are there in Skyrim?
There are ten jails in total in Skyrim. 9 Jails that belong to their respective 9 holds in the jail, plus one jail added with the Dragonborn expansion in the Raven Rock, on the island of Solstheim. Each hold has a more or less unique approach to jails, so we’ll give you a brief overview of each jail in Skyrim and how to escape from them.
1. Haafingar Hold – Castle Dour Dungeons
Solitude jail is situated in Castle Dour, the “other” big castle in the city. Castle Dour is the center of Imperial power in Skyrim, and the courtyard of the place is simply littered with training legionaries. Castle Dour’s dungeon is a circular basement dungeon with a pretty straightforward exit. All you need to do is locate the “escape” shadowmark in the dungeon on the floor next to the collapsible wall. The collapsible wall is way out of jail.
2 Raven Rock – The Bulwark Jail
Raven Rock’s jail is built into the mammoth-sized bulwark. You will be taken into the cell, and once you’ve used your lock-picking skills to break out of it, locate the tunnel below the fireplace in the room that leads you to the natural Coldcinder Cave and your way out.
3 Winterhold – The Chill
If you get arrested in Winterhold, you’re going to be taken to a deserted island called The Chill. You’re going to be dumped into a small cave with a cell inside, and once you attempt to escape, Frost Atronachs will spawn, and all you need to do to escape is to defeat them. When you are taken to The Chill, you will get to keep your stuff, both stolen and owned, and if you escape from The Chill, your bounty will be reset, and no further bounty will be incurred. The Chill is the most complicated jail (due to Frost Atronachs) and the easiest one to escape from.
4 The Reach – Cidhna Mine
Cidhna Mine serves as Markarth’s Jail, and it’s one of the most notorious jails in all of Skyrim. Cidhna Mine is a silver mine filled with Forsworn and other types of unsavory individuals. If you’ve already completed the quest “Forsworn Conspiracy,” the only way to leave Cidhna Mine is to mine silver ore.
5 The Pale – Dawnstar Jail
Dawnstar Jail is situated in Dawnstar’s Barracks. All you need to do to escape from this jail is break the lock of your cell and sneak your way past the guards that are vehemently patrolling the area. It’s a pretty straightforward jail and straightforward escape, only complicated by the guards -as usual.
6 Whiterun Hold – Dragonsreach Dungeon
Committing a crime in Whiterun Hold will land you in Dragonsreach Dungeon. The jail is situated underneath the castle, and plenty of guards are stationed on their posts. Luckily, just like in Solitude, there is an “escape” shadowmark in the dungeon to the right of the Novice-locked gate and a dead bandit.
7 Falkreath Hold – Falkreath Jail
Falkreath, like Dawnstar, has a pretty straightforward jail. You will land in the guard’s barracks and a simple locked cell. The only way to escape is to pick the lock and try to sneak past the guards while trying to acquire your belongings.
8 Hjaalmarch Hold – Morthal Jail
Morthal Jail is likewise located in the guard house, which makes escape hard but not impossible. The only viable escape route leads you smack right through the guards’ quarters, and you will have to pick the lock of your cell.
9 Eastmarch Hold – Windhelm Jail
Windhelm Jail is located underneath the Palace of the Kings. It, unfortunately, shares the same location as the guard’s barracks. Prepare to face regular guard patrols; picking the lock is the only way out.
10 The Rift Hold – Riften Jail
You would think that the hold with a reputation like the Rift wouldn’t even bother with having a jail, and you would be wrong. Riften Jail is situated underneath Mistveil Keep, with quite a few residents when you arrive. Luckily for you, your cell has an “escape” shadowmark At the rear of the room, and this is likewise the optimal way to leave the jail before serving your time.