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HISTORY
 
1802
The then existing barbarous methods of punishments were banned and causing of death by hanging was introduced by Governor Sir Fredrick North.
  
1812
The first person to be hanged on a fixed gallows, in the history of Prisons on 10th February. The death sentence was imposed on him for rising against the British Government.
 
1818
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
 
1844
First Prison Ordinance was enacted, entitled "An Ordinance for the better regulation of Prisons Act No. 18 of 1844", Establishment of Welikada Prison.
 
1853
An Ordinance for the  safe custody of convicts employed upon public works Act No.02 of 1853.
 
1866
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.
 
1867
1st Prison Commission – Prison Disciplinary Commission No. 1 of 1867 Pingo carrying as punishment was introduced.
 
1869
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.

 
1871
The first gallows was built in the Welikada Prison on 25th May.
 
1875
Establishment of Mahara Prison.
 
1876
Establishment of Bogambara Prison.
 
1877 -1905
The supervisions and control of all prisons in the Island ware vested in Inspector General of Prisons. From its inceptions 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.
 
1883
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)
 
1885
Cambell Park. At  the request of Mr.Cambell the Government a 20 acres of ground in the neighborhood of Welikada for a Public Recreation Club. Prisoners were employed in this work. 
 
1900
A Prison riot took place at Mahara quarry. Entire Sinhalese staff was removed and they were replace by Malay staff. 
 
1905
The Department of Prisons was separated from the Department of Police as an independent Department on 16th July.
 
1911
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.
 
1918-1920
Introduction of a broad system of classification by institutions, first offenders, juveniles females and reconvicted 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 reconvicted men were further classified and housed in different sections of the larger prisons.
 
1920-1925
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 thousand 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.
 
1922
The convicted settlements at Andaman's was 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.

 

 
1923
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
 
1926
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.
 
1931
Report of the Prisons inquiry Commission 1931. Sessional Paper 1 of 1932 (Gavin Commission Reports.)
 
 
1932
Sessional Paper XVII-1932. Report of the Committee appointed to consider the question of  Prison industries.
 
1933-1936

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.

 
1936
Former training officers. 20 officers were recruited and a 3 months training was given. 12 completed the training course.
 
1937
A Prison officers' Training center was started in 1937 and all subordinates officers in the institutions side were recruited as learner guards and received 3 month course of training at the training center.
 
1939
An Ordinance to amend the Prison Ordinance No53 of 1939.
 
1940
Establishment of the training School for Youthful Offenders at Wathupitiwala, the 1st Open Borstal Institution in Asia for youth offenders. 
 
1944
Introducing of the Probation system as a branch of the Prison Department  Recruitment and training of the first batch officers.
 
1946-1955
Expansion of the Probation Service to cover all the judical areas of the country. Organization of Remand Houses, Certified Schools and Probation Hostels.  
 
1949
Report of the Special Committee on Prison Administration sessional Paper xviii.

Gratien Commission Report

 
1950
Establishment of the open prison at Pallekele, the 1st of the kind in Aisa.
 
1952
Commencement of scheme for senior officers to be sent abroad for training and further study under the Colombo Plan under various fellowship schemes
 
1952-1954
Organisation of the building branch of the Department.
 
1954
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.

 
1956
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.

 
1956-1957
Transfer  of all fiscal lock –ups in the country  to the Prison Department.
 
1957-1958
Establishment of  Open Camps at Anuradhapura, Batticaloa and Jaffna.
 
1958
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. 
 
1959
Appointment of a Commission on the Death Penalty in Sri Lanka under the Chairmanship of Professor Norval Morris -  Sessional paper XIV of 1959.
 
1960
Re-introduction of death penalty.
 
1968
increase of remission from ¼ to 1/3.
 
1971
Insurgency – Sudden influx of about 17,000 persons to prison institutions and camps causing disruption of normal prison activities.
 
1971-1975
Departmental officer deployed to assist in the rehabilitation of insurgents who were alleged to be marginally involved in the attempted insurrection.
 
1974
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.
 
1975
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 organised.
 
1976
Establishment of Pallansena Open Correctional Centre
 
1977
Increase of staff approved thought the Management Service Division of the Ministry of Public Administration.
 
1977-1978
Establishment of Weerawila Open Work Camp.
 
1978
Library at the Centre Research and Training in Correction

Formation of National Association for Prevention of Crime and Delinquency.

 
1979-1980
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 – Sessional paper VI of 1981

Hulftsdrop Prison was closed on 26th August 1979.

 
1981
Opening of the family rehabilitation center,Senapura.
 
1982
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) institution which were opened as " WORK CAMPS FOR YOUNG OCCENDERS" Pallansena and Taldena respectively were subsequently renamed as "CORRECIIONAL CENTERS FOR YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS".

 
1983
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 form the Attorney General's Department and the Verdict was homicide due to a prison riot.

 
1984
(i) 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.

(ii) Inauguration of UNESCO club in Welikada and Bogambara Prisons (First UNESCO club in Prisons in the Island).

(iii) A Sudden increase of those admitted to prison for drug offenders from 580 in 1980 to 1777 in 1984.

 
1985
Center for Research and Training Corrections which was establishment with the  UNDP assistance completed 10 years on 30th April, 1985.

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 building 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.

 
1986
Establishment of a Transit Camp at Palawatta in the kalutara District for a certain category of persons arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. 
 
1987

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.

 
1988
Unprecedented "Under prevailed in Prison viz, Welikada, Bogambara, Magazine Remand and transmit Camp at Pelawatta, as a consequence of the unfavorable conditions existed in the Island towards the latter part of the year. The Prison riot of November 1988 which took place in Welikada Prison resulted 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. 
 
1989
For the first time in the history of Prison 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.
 
1990

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 o dangerous drug addition.

 
1991
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.

 
1993
Establishment of Kuruwita work Camp.
 
1995
Ceremonial dress for Prison Officers.
 
1996
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.

 
1997
Re- establishment of Jaffna Prison
 
1999
Kuruwita work camp was supplemented with a Remand Prison

Inauguration of the Boossa Prison

 
2002
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.

 
2003
Radio signals system was established between Colombo and Mahara Prisons.
 
2006
Establishment of an open school at Pallansena

Female section of the Welikada Prison was detached and attached to the Magazine Remand Prison.

 
2007
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.

 
2008
Female section of the Magazine Remand Prison was detached and again attach 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.

 
2009
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

 
2010
Commencement of the Work Camp in Hangilipola