These special cells were designed to ensnare a genie against its will. The genie would be forced to do the sha'ir's bidding, with freedom being its reward for services rendered. Sha'irs often used a genie trapped in this manner to force them to do things that they would not normally do, such as grant wishes. Genie prisons could also be used simply to imprison a genie who was otherwise interfering with the sha'ir's plans.
The genie prison needed to be completely constructed before an attempt was made to trap a genie. Genie prisons could be made from any material, but some kind of metal was often selected for its durability. If a genie prison was physically destroyed, then all of its magic was released, along with an irate genie. Common genie prisons included rings, lamps, bottles, gems, and vials.
Once the genie prison was successfully constructed and imbued with magic, the sha'ir had exactly ten days to capture a genie before the magic from the prison expired. Sha'irs could capture specific genies if called, or random ones that they encountered along their travels. A sha'ir needed to be within 100 yards (91.4 m) of a genie to attempt to capture it.
Genies trapped within a genie prison could only gain their freedom if the prison was destroyed or if they were willingly released by the sha'ir based on the sha'ir's terms.
Sha'irs could imprison up to five different genies at any given time, though each genie needed a separate genie prison.
Since holding a genie against their will was a hostile act, the genie community took note of sha'irs who abused this power. Genies typically refused to deal with sha'irs who trapped other genies, and any sha'ir gaining an audience with a genie lord was required to justifying their actions for using a genie prison or face harsh consequences.