Literally workhouse means a ‘house of correction’. Workhouse is the term used for a jail or penal institution for criminals who are convicted for short sentences. Generally the criminals in workhouses are those who have committed minor offenses. The keeper of a workhouse has powers analogous to those of a jailer.
Further, workhouse under the Poor Law systems of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland meant a poorhouse where people who were unable to support themselves were given work.
In State v. Wright, 1974 Ohio App. LEXIS 3570 (Ohio Ct. App. 1974), the court observed that “A workhouse is a proper place of confinement for a misdemeanant subject to incarceration in a county jail or municipal-corporation prison, as provided by Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 753.04.”