Throughout history, governments, pirates and oppressive regimes have used labour camps as living quarters for prisoners and slaves. They are built on large sections of land surrounded by fences, with guard towers positioned to provide the sentries visual coverage of the entire compound. Inside the camps, a system of hard labour is enforced with the prisoners engaging in constant, arduous and sometimes dangerous manual work. Those imprisoned within labour camps are often individuals that have been sold into slavery, prisoners of war, political enemies, those that engaged in terrorism and individuals that may simply need to disappear.
The quality of life for the inhabitants of labour camps can vary depending on the location and the operator. In the worst facilities, prisoners have to endure hellish living conditions and are provided with little to no sustenance and meager shelter to protect them from the surrounding environment. These same camps often overflow with prisoners and slaves, rendering them cramped, with barely enough space for them to sleep or even stand. In conditions such as these, camps end up being a final destination, rather than a detour, and the sentient beings who have left them claim that they are among the harshest living environments in the galaxy.
With more humane operators, a labour camp may simply be a prison with the inhabitants engaging in manual labour as punishment for their crimes. The guards provide the prisoners with adequate provisions and shelter and prisoners are released when they have served their sentence.
Based on fragmented records and tales, the Rakatan Empire is thought to be one of the first governments to construct such facilities on a galactic scale. Their example continues today, with labour camps being found in many systems and in use by many organizations.