Malaysia Prisons Deparment
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A prison is unlike any other institution or organisation that exists in modern society. The differences are not merely physical; it is a place where a group of individuals are trained to manage and take charge of a group of individuals who are called prisoners/detainees/juvenile delinquents. This latter group consists of individuals who do not voluntarily enter the institution but are in fact forced to enter and prevented from leaving the prison area by guards, walls and fences. In other words, the Prisons Department management does not choose who its customers are and does not have the power to release them. The prisoners/detainees/inmates have to live in accordance with the regulations in force and their every movement is strictly controlled. In today’s concept, a prison is a place where prisoners are held, controlled and have to undergo various rehabilitation activities until the day of their release. Society has to understand that the country’s prison philosophy is a measure of its civilisation. The Prisons Department is the final institution in the implementation of the country’s criminal justice system, and it is accountable to the Ministry of Internal Security. The Prisons Department serves society by incarcerating people who are sentenced by the courts.

It is the duty of the Prisons Department to control these individuals humanely and to help them to lead purposeful lives as law abiding citizens, whether during imprisonment or after their release.


History of Establishment
During British rule until the arrival of the Japanese, places where sentences were carried out were under the responsibility of the state governments, in accordance with their respective regulations. In the case of the Straits Settlements, a Superintendent stationed in Singapore acted as the supervisor by carrying out inspections in the states within its jurisdiction. The Straits Settlements were the earliest states to develop their prisons whereas the Malay states began to develop their prisons only after the British had established an administration that would be responsible for the same. The Taiping Prison, better known as the Taiping Gaol, the largest prison in the Malay states at the time, was established in 1879. The prison administration was established with a view to engender suffering in the lives of the prisoners in the hope that it would deter people from committing crimes. In 1881, Sikh warders were brought in to assist the Malay warders whereas carpentry instructors from Hong Kong introduced the concept of trade in prison. Among the earliest trades undertaken were rock breaking and carpentry. In 1882 an attempt to categorise the prisoners was carried out and in 1889 European warders were appointed in some prisons. With the establishment of the Federated Malay States, the Taiping Prison became the detention centre for prisoners serving long sentences in the states of Perak, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor. In 1923, the Visiting Justice System was introduced. Prison trade was expanded and included printing, fabric weaving, sewing, as well as rattan and metal crafts. In 1924, rock breaking ceased and was replaced with coconut husk pounding. During the Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945, prisons were used for the detention of civilian prisoners as well as prisoners of war of the Japanese army. It was during this period of war that all prison records and records of prisoners were destroyed.

After the Second World War, the Prisons Headquarters was established to administer all the prisons in Malaya. The post-war era witnessed the return of peace and modern administrative methods were introduced. The Emergency in 1948 led to an increase in the number of prisoners resulting in the overcrowding of prisons. This halted the development of prisons and it was only at the end of 1949 that the situation returned to normal and the development of the prison system could be fully focused on.

In 1952, the Prison Act was enacted followed by the Federal Prison Regulations in 1953 which was based on the concept of modern treatment. These laws were introduced to replace the old prison legislation. In the same year, the Criminal Justice Bill was passed wherein the instrument of torture, the ‘cat of nine tails’, was abolished and the term ‘prison’ replaced the old phrase of ‘penal servitude’. In 1957 when the Federation of Malaya gained its independence, the first Commissioner of Prisons was appointed to administer all the prisons in the federation. With the formation of Malaysia in 1963, the Prisons Department undertook the management of prisons in Peninsular Malaysia as well as Sabah and Sarawak. The Prison Act 1995 was enacted on 2 November 1995 to replace the old Prison Act. The Prison Regulations 2000 came into effect on 1 September 2000 to replace the previous regulations. The previous act and regulations had long been in use and it was appropriate that changes and reforms be carried out based on the current needs and changes in order to streamline the management and administrative machinery of the prison institution. In the era of development and modernisation, the Prisons Department realises that it should not be content with past achievements but should move forward and be innovative in the areas of criminology, penology and social control as a whole, to ensure the smooth running of prison administration in dealing with modern cultures.



List of Former-Former Director General of Prisons


Capt. E.S. Lilley
01.04.1946 - 11.09.1949
11.09.1949 - 01.10.1956
01.10.1956 - 02.10.1957
03.10.1957 - 24.07.1977
25.07.1977 - 30.04.1988
01.05.1988 - 07.11.1989
01.03.1990 - 07.02.1994
09.02.1994 - 31.12.1997
01.01.1998 - 16.10.2001
17.10.2001 - 22.08.2009

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Malaysia Prisons Department
Prisons Complex, 43000 Kajang, Selangor.
Tel : 03 8732 8000
Email : pro@prison dot gov dot my