– Prison History –

The then existing barbarous methods of punishments were banned and causing of death by hanging was introduced by Governor Sir Fredrick North.
The first person to be hanged on a fixed gallow, in the history of Prisons on 10th February. The death sentence was imposed on him for rising against the British Government.
After the rebellion 53 people including Ehalepola Adhikaram were detained at Ehalepola Adhikaram’s residence by the British, which is presently known as Kandy Remand
First Prison Ordinance was enacted, entitled “An Ordinance for the better regulation of Prisons Act No. 18 of 1844”, Establishment of Welikada Prison.
An Ordinance for the safe custody of convicts employed upon public works Act No.02 of 1853.
An Ordinance to amend the Ordinance No. 18 of 1844, the 9th and 10th sub-sections of the 31st section. 70th and 71st sections of the Fiscals Ordinance of 1866.Act No.20 of 1866.
1st Prison Commission – Prison Disciplinary Commission No. 1 of 1867 Pingo carrying as punishment was introduced.
An Ordinance to convert the Welikada and Hultsdorf Prisons into central convict establishments and to vest in the Superintendent there of certain powers vested in the Fiscal of Western Province Act No. 16 of 1869.

Prison Ordinance Act No. 16 of 1869, establishment of uniformed prison system under the control of Inspector General of Prisons.

Prison Discipline Commission II of 1869, system of giving guard conduct marks was introduced and remitting of the terms of their imprisonment.

The first gallows was built in the Welikada Prison on 25th May.
Establishment of Mahara Prison.
Establishment of Bogambara Prison.

The supervisions and control of all prisons in the Island were vested in Inspector General of Prisons.
From its inception the office of Inspector General of Prisons was held by the Inspector General of Police until 1905 when they separated.
Major de Wilton who till then held both offices was appointed Inspector General of Prisons and he was also appointed to be the Superintendent of the Prisons at Welikada, Mutwal and Hultsdorf.

An Ordinance to provide a general penal code for the colony sentence of death carried into effect within the walls of the prison in which the prisoner is confined at the time of execution (Ordinance No.3 of 1883)

Campbell Park. At  the request of Mr.Campbell the Government a 20 acres of ground in the neighborhood of Welikada for a Public Recreation Club. Prisoners were employed in this work.

A Prison riot took place at Mahara quarry. Entire Sinhalese staff was removed and were replace by Malay staff.
The Department of Prisons was separated from the Department of Police as an independent Department on 16th July.
The Printing machinery at Welikada Prison was given to the Government Printing Press and two hundred prisoners were sent daily to work at the Press.

Introduction of a board system of classification by institutions, first offenders, juveniles females and re-convicted prisoners were located in separate institutions. Also short term and long term first offenders as well as star class prisoners and the better type of re-convicted men were further classified and housed in different sections of the larger prisons.

Organization of large scale prison industries at Welikada and Bogambara Prisons and smaller ones at other institutions. A complete steam laundry was set up Welikada capable of handling thousands of pieces of linen from Colombo Hospitals and for washing prisoners’ clothing and other textile requirements were supplied at Welikada. In these trades and a system of making supplies to all Government Departments was adopted.
The convicted settlements at Andaman’s were closed down and 62 life convicts sent back to Ceylon. The sentence was reduced to 20 years rigorous imprisonment, with the privilege of prison remission.
The term of imprisonment of the prisoners sentenced to Life, was commuted to a 20 year imprisonment for the first time on 22nd February.
Establishment on July 1st , 1923 Prison Department Mutual Provident Fund for the benefit of the subordinate staff of the department and with the object of promoting thrift, affording relief by means of loans to its members in times of sickness or distress and of making provisions for themselves, widows and orphans
Application of Scout principles in the training of youthful offenders was introduced and the Welikada Prison troop was registered by the Imperial Scout Headquarters as the 1st troop of its kind in the world.
Report of the Prisons inquiry Commission 1931. Session Report 1 of 1932 (Gavin Commission Reports.)
Sessional Paper XVII-1932. Report of the Committee appointed to consider the question of Prison industries.
Establishment of Magazine Remand Prison
Direct recruitment to the middle and exclusive grades commenced. System of local visiting committee introduced. Strict provisions introduced for the investigation of prisoner’s complaints.
Series of prison offences such as escapes, assault of prison officers made triable by District Judge and a Tribunal.
20 Former training officers were recruited and a 3 months training was given. 12 completed the training course.
A Prison officers’ Training centre was started in 1937 and all subordinates officers in the institutions side were recruited as learner guards and received 3 months course of training at the training centre.
An Ordinance to amend the Prison Ordinance Number 53 of 1939.
Establishment of the Training School for Youthful Offenders at Wathupitiwala, the 1st Open Borstal Institution in Asia for Youth Offenders.
Introducing of the Probation system as a branch of the Prison Department Recruitment and training of the first batch officers.
Expansion of the Probation Service to cover all the judicial areas of the country. Organization of Remand Houses, Certified Schools and Probation Hostels.

Report of the Special Committee on Prison Administration Session Paper xviii. (Gratien Commission Report)

Establishment of the Open Prison at Pallekele, the 1st of the kind in Asia.
Commencement of scheme for senior officers to be sent abroad for training and further study under the Colombo Plan under various fellowship schemes.
Organisation of the building branch of the Department.
Establishment to of C.C.Y.O at Negombo.
Break water and Slave Island – These prisons were closed by order of the Minister published in the Gazette No.10640 of 12th February.
Suspension of the death penalty in Sri Lanka. Separation of the Probation Service from the Department of Prisons to from the nucleus of a new Department called the Department of Probation and Child Care Services.
Entire Fiscal Establishments were handed over to the Department of Prisons.
Transfer of all fiscal lock –ups in the country to the Prison Department.
Establishment of Open Camps at Anuradhapura, Batticaloa and Jaffna.
Introduction of the 9 hours working day for all prison staff and system of payment of overtime to all officers of and below the rank of Jailor.
Appointment of a Commission on the Death Penalty in Sri Lanka under the Chairmanship of Professor Norval Morris – Session Paper XIV of 1959.
Re-introduction of death penalty.
increase of remission from ¼ to 1/3.
Insurgency – Sudden influx of about 17,000 persons to prison institutions and camps causing disruption of normal prison activities.
Departmental officer deployed to assist in the rehabilitation of insurgents who were alleged to be marginally involved in the attempted insurrection.
Establishment of the Experimental Prisoners’ Co -operative farm at Mithirigala, abolition of star class prisoners, Formation of Discharged Prisoners Co-operative introduction of the work release scheme.
Establishment of the centre for Research and training in Correction with residential facilities for 40 trainees at a time. Service of two U.N. Experts obtained to set up adequate staff training, programmed pre–service and in–service training course for all staff was organized.
Establishment of Pallansena Open Correctional Centre.
Increase of staff approved thought the Management Service Division of the Ministry of Public Administration.
Establishment of Weerawila Open Work Camp.
Library at the Centre Research and Training in Correction
Formation of National Association for Prevention of Crime and Delinquency.
A system of work camps for short – term and medium –term prisoners was introduced.
Publication of the first issue of the ‘Prison Statistics of Sri Lanka’ complied by Mr.K.L.C.Athukorala,Ex. statistical officer, Prisons Headquarters.
Prison Reform Commission under the Chairmanship of V.N. Pillai – Session Paper VI of 1981.
Hulftsdrop Prison was closed on 26th August 1979.
Opening of the family rehabilitation center, Senapura.
Prison Lock ups at Kegalle and Trincomalee were up graded to the status of Remand Prisons with effect from 20.01.1982
In February,1982 the two (2) institutions which were opened as ” WORK CAMPS FOR YOUNG OFFENDERS” Pallansena and Taldena respectively were subsequently renamed as “CORRECTIONAL CENTERS FOR YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS”.
Unprecedented increase of unconvicted prisoners’ administration owing to the state of emergency following the ethnic disturbances of July,1983.
Welikada Prison Colombo figured prominently in this Ethnic disturbance, when on 25th and 27th July 1983,53 Tamil detainees were killed by other Prisoners in a Prison riot which broke out immediately after violence broke out in the Country. The inquest into the details was held by the Chief Magistrate Colombo assisted by Senior Attorneys from the Attorney General’s Department and the Verdict was homicide due to a prison riot.
Nawajeevanagma colony established for 300 discharged Prisoners at Padaviya was attacked by Tamil Terrorists on 30th November, 1984 killing 56 discharged prisoners and members of their families.
Inauguration of UNESCO club in Welikada and Bogambara Prisons (First UNESCO club in Prisons in the Island).
A Sudden increase of those admitted to prison for drug offences from 580 in 1980 to 1777 in 1984.
The closure of Jaffna Prison on 12.05.1985 and the shifting of the Superintendent’s office to the Magistrate Bungalow at Old Park Road, Jaffna. All the inmates were relocated at Negombo Prison.
Family Rehabilitation Center at Senapura was handed back to the Department of Social Services in April, 1985.
The Open Prison Camp at Kopay was attacked by Tamil Terrorists who destroyed the buildings with all valuable articles in May, 1985.
Establishment of Permanent Center” Legal Aid” for the benefit of remand prisoners at the Magazine Remand Prison in Collaboration with the Legal Aid Council.
(O.S.M Seneviratne Commission) Appointing of a Committee to consider changing the practice procedure and rules, related to prisons having regard to changed circumstances headed by Hon. Justice O.S.M.Seneviratne, Justice of the Supreme Court.
Establishment of a Transit Camp at Palawatta in the kalutara District for a certain category of persons arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Inauguration of Sewa Vanitha Unit of the Department of Prisons on 11th March 1987 by Mrs. C. Ranaraja the President of the Seva Vanitha Unit of the Ministry of Justice.
The Magazine Remand Prison which was confined to ordinary Remand Prisoners was set apart detainees who have been arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and Emergency Regulations with effect from 7th May, 1987.
Due to unfavorable conditions which prevailed in the island during the latter part of the year Welikada, Bogamabara,Magazine Remand and Transit Camp at Pelawatta, experienced unfavorable conditions. A Prison riot of November 1988 which took place in Welikada Prison caused a considerable destruction to office buildings and stores. Also there was a major escape of detainees numbering 221 who had been in custody under the prevention of Terrorism Act from Magazine Remand Prison and 131 of them who were also in detention under the same Act Pelawatta Transit Camp.
For the first time in the history of Prisons Department the Officers from Wekikada, Mahara and some other Prisons were out of duty points demanding higher salary scales, extra set of uniforms and welfare amenities, for them. This was not an organized strike but walk out due to the conditions prevailed in this country, During this period. Most of the demands were granted like an undertaking to increase salaries and other welfare amenities within 24 hours. During this period the security of those prisons were taken up by security forces.
The Work Camp at Weerawila has been converted to a Camp for terrorist detainees with effect from 29th June,1990.
Navodawa a Rehabilitation Center inaugurated to reform inmates convicted on changes of dangerous drug addition.
In 04th August, 1991 opening of the Remand Prison, Kalutara.
Koggala Work Camp was closed down in 31st December,1991 to make way for a free Trade Zone.
Establishment of Kuruwita Work Camp.
Ceremonial dress for Prison Officers.
Weerawila Work Camp was taken over from the Ministry of Defense.
A Project under which awarding of scholarships to the children of employees of the Department of Prisons was established.
Committee to examine the existing Legal Provisions and Administration practice, relating to the welfare of prisons – Headed by Walter Ladduwahetti.
Re- establishment of Jaffna Prison.
Kuruwita Work Camp was supplemented with a Remand Prison.
Inauguration of the Boossa Prison.
Establishment of Wariyapola Open Work Camp
Conversion of Lock-ups at Polonnaruwa and Monaragala into Remand Prisons.
Handing over the Ratnapura Lock-up to the Ratnapura Police.
The Department of Prison was transferred to the Ministry of Interior.
A radio signals system was established between Colombo and Mahara Prisons.
Establishment of an open school at Pallansena.
Female section of the Welikada Prison was detached and attached to the Magazine Remand Prison.
Inauguration of Sri Lanka Prisons Day on 16th July. A memorial was built in memory of prison officers who died on duty. Inaugural Colours Night of the Department of Prisons was held for the merits of sports.
Introduction of a prison song for the Department of Prisons
Commencement of work on the project to relocate Bogambara Prison to Pallekele, this is the first planned prison in prison history
Organizing preliminary activities for the establishment of open prison camps at Hangilipola, Giribawa and Embilipitiya prisons.
Implementing programs in prisons to coincide with World AIDS Day and training a group of prisoners selected by the HIV / AIDS Prevention Project as Sanwara Leaders.
Female section of the Magazine Remand Prison was detached and re-attached to the Welikada Prison.
Commencement of the registration of convicted prisoners in Mahara Prison.
Commencement of the Women’s section at the Matara Prison.
Commencement of the Open Work Camp in Thunkama, Embilipitiya.
Lock-up in Kalutara, under the authority of Urban Council of Kalutara.
Establishment of Remand Prison in Vavuniya.
Establishment of a security and Intelligence Division.
Training school for Youthful offender’s in Pallansena was shifted to Ambepussa

Commencement of the Work Camp in Hangilipola.

Training School for Youthful Offenders in Ambepussa was shifted on 18th of March to Watareka Work Camp and Opened School their named as “SUNEETHA”.
The Kandy Remand Prison and the Bogambara Prison was named as Bogambara Prison on 05th of June as one Establishment at Dumbara – Pallekele.
The Prison ” Overseer” and ” Welfare Officer” ranks has been changed to “Sargent” and “Rehabilitation Officer” respectively.
Prisoners Welfare Division is under the control of a Commissioner of Prisons.
“Prison’s Welfare Association” that was established in 1917 for the benefit of inmates their families and children celebrated it’s century proudly.
The Tangalle Remand Prison was shifted to Angunakolapelessa Remand Prison on 03rd of November.