Malaysian Prison Department - Prison History - History of Malaysian Prisons

History of Malaysian Prisons

During the era of British rule and until the arrival of the Japanese in 1942, penal institutions were the responsibility of he individual states' governments with their respective regulations. In the Straits Settlements, a Superintendent based in Singapore, acted as the supervisor and inspected the institutions under his jurisdiction.

The Straits Settlements were the earliest to build their own prisons while the Federated Malay States did so only after the British set up a responsible department. The Taiping Prison, better known as the Taiping Gaol, the largest at the time, was built in 1879. Prisons were built with the main purpose of bringing suffering to the inmates in the hope that this would deter people from committing crimes.

In 1881, Sikh warders were brought in to assist Malay warders while vocational instructors from Hong Kong were used in an effort to introduce trades to the prisons. Among the earliest of these were rock breaking and carpentry. An attempt was made to categorise the inmates in 1882, then in 1889 European warders were appointed at some prisons.

With the formation of the Federated Malay States, Taiping Prison became a detention centre for long-term prisoners from Perak, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor. In 1923, a visiting justice system was introduced and prison industries expanded to include printing work, weaving, sewing, rattan weaving, and metalwork. Rock-breaking work was abolished in 1924 and replaced with the pounding of coconut husks.

During the Japanese occupation (1941–1945), the Imperial Japanese Army also used the prisons for POWs. All records of the prisons and its inmates for this period were subsequently destroyed by the Japanese.

After World War II, the Prison Office was established to administer all prisons in Malaya. The post-war era saw the return of peace, and modern administrative methods were introduced. The 1948 Malayan Emergency resulted in an increase in inmate numbers, which in turn caused overcrowding in the prisons. This disrupted the development of the prison system and it was only towards the end of 1949 when peace returned that prison development could be carried out smoothly.

The Prisons Ordinance 1952 and the Prisons Regulations 1953, based on the "modern treatment" concept, were introduced to replace old legislation. In 1953, the Criminal Justice Bill was passed, which abolished use of the cat-o'-nine-tails and replaced the term "penal servitude" with "prison".

Following Independence Day in 1957, the first Prisons Commissioner was appointed to take charge of the administration of all prisons in Malaya. In 1963, with the formation of Malaysia, prisons in Sabah and Sarawak came under the jurisdiction of the Prisons Department.

On 2 November 1995, the Prison Act 1995 was introduced to replace the former Prison Act which in turn was superseded on 1 September 2000 by the Prison Regulations 2000. The previous acts and regulations had been in use for a long time, thus changes and reforms were necessary to meet current needs and demands to streamline prison management and administration.

In an era of development and modernisation, the Malaysian Prison Department realises that it should not to be content with is past achievements, but should instead move forward and innovate in order to assist the prison administration in dealing with modern culture through criminology, penology and overall social control.

Read more about this topic:  Malaysian Prison Department, Prison History

Famous quotes containing the words history of, prisons and/or history:

    The history of our era is the nauseating and repulsive history of the crucifixion of the procreative body for the glorification of the spirit.
    —D.H. (David Herbert)

    Yes, it is the hour at which, long ago, I felt happy. What always awaited me then was a light and dreamless sleep. But something had changed because, with the wait for tomorrow, it is my cell that I have found. As if the familiar paths traced in the summer skies could lead to prisons as well as innocent slumbers.
    Albert Camus (1913–1960)

    No one can understand Paris and its history who does not understand that its fierceness is the balance and justification of its frivolity. It is called a city of pleasure; but it may also very specially be called a city of pain. The crown of roses is also a crown of thorns. Its people are too prone to hurt others, but quite ready also to hurt themselves. They are martyrs for religion, they are martyrs for irreligion; they are even martyrs for immorality.
    Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874–1936)