There has been a prison or gaol of some description in Aylesbury since 1180. The current prison is of early Victorian design and has been on its present site since 1845 following extensive public building in the area that also included the workhouse (now the Tindal Centre). Since construction, it has gone through a variety of changes, starting as a county gaol, then became an adult women's prison in 1890, changing to a girls' borstal in the 1930s, and between 1959-1961 was an adult male prison, after which it became a male YOI and since 1989 has held only long term prisoners.
In 1998 Aylesbury Prison was criticised after an inspection report highlighted its poor health regime (the jail saw the rapid turnover of five senior medical officers in two years). The report opened up a wider debate about the pay of medical staff in UK prisons compared to those in the NHS.