The Correctional Services Department (CSD) runs a comprehensive range of programmes for adult and young persons in custody under two broad headings: prison management and rehabilitation of offenders.
As at December 31, 2018, the department managed 28 correctional facilities with 6,988 staff looking after 8,181 persons in custody and 1,412 people under supervision after discharge. Offenders sentenced to imprisonment are assigned to correctional institutions according to their gender, age and security ratings. Separate institutions are provided for males and females for adult and young persons in custody. Young offenders aged between 14 and 20 may be admitted to a training centre or a rehabilitation centre. A detention centre programme is available for male offenders aged between 14 and 24. Drug addicts found guilty of an offence punishable by imprisonment may be placed in a drug addiction treatment centre.
All persons in custody receive proper care. Their diets follow approved scales of nutritional values with regard to their health, religious and dietary requirements. All convicted adults, unless certified physically unfit, are required to work six days a week. They are assigned to different work posts according to their fitness and security ratings, personal experience and balance of sentence. They receive earnings, which may be used to buy approved articles and canteen items, as an incentive to acquire good working habits and vocational skills. They can watch television and read newspapers and library books. They may send and receive letters, receive visits and take part in religious services.
Among the 28 correctional facilities of different security grading under the department, nine are for adult male offenders and two are for adult female offenders. For young males, the department operates one correctional institutions, one detention centre, one training centre and two rehabilitation centres. Young females are accommodated at one correctional institution and two rehabilitation centres. Hei Ling Chau Addiction Treatment Centre, Lai Sun Correctional Institution, Nei Kwu Correctional Institution and part of Lai King Correctional Institution accommodate convicted drug addicts. Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre separately houses male and female persons in custody of all categories who require psychiatric observation, treatment or assessment. Seven of the correctional facilities cater for remanded people of different age groups. Each correctional facility normally has dormitories, a kitchen, dining rooms, a laundry, workshops, areas for exercise and recreation, a library and a hospital. The department also manages two custodial wards in public hospitals for persons in custody who require special medical care or surgery.
The department operates three halfway houses to help those released under supervision reintegrate into society. The residents may go out to work or attend school during daytime.
In 2018, 9,588 adults (6,599 men and 2,989 women) were sentenced to imprisonment, 5,488 adults (4,198 men and 1,290 women) on remand were taken into custody, 148 young offenders were sentenced to imprisonment (116 males and 32 females), and 250 young persons on remand (220 males and 30 females) were taken into custody. In addition, 115 offenders (103 males and 12 females) were sentenced to detention in training centres, rehabilitation centres or the detention centre, and 561 offenders (435 males and 126 females) were placed in drug addiction treatment centres, while 1,190 offenders (1,009 males and 181 females) were remanded pending reports on their suitability for sentencing to one of these centres.
Most of the correctional facility are either aged or were originally built for other purposes. To meet the requirements of penal operations and management, the department will continue to explore other possible redevelopment improvement projects.
Offenders under 21 can receive education and are encouraged to take part in both local and overseas accredited public examinations. Adults in custody are also encouraged to take part in self-study courses or tertiary-level distance learning programmes offered by external accredited educational organisations. Those pursuing further studies may apply for financial help from the Prisoners’ Education Trust Fund and other education subsidy schemes.
To help offenders reintegrate into society as law-abiding citizens, the CSD provides halfday vocational training programmes for those under 21 years of age to acquire job skills, obtain accreditation and develop work habits. The department provides eligible adult offenders to take part voluntarily in the programmes with pre-release vocational courses. Full-time and parttime courses are offered at 18 correctional facilities.
The department provides work for adult offenders as required by law to keep them gainfully employed and to help them develop good working habits, a sense of responsibility and selfconfidence. Through the training received at work, they can also acquire work skills to facilitate their reintegration into society.
In 2018, a daily average of 4,392 people were engaged in productive work, providing government departments and subvented bodies with a wide range of goods and services. These include office furniture, uniforms, leather products, hospital linen, filter masks, fiberglass products, traffic signs, precast concrete products and metal products, laundry services for hospitals and clinics, book binding for public libraries, printing work, file jackets and envelopes. The market value of these goods and services provided by the department was $442 million in 2018.
Rehabilitation officers look after the welfare of persons in custody and help them deal with personal problems arising from their detention or imprisonment. The officers provide individual and group counselling and help run rehabilitation programmes such as pre-release reintegration orientation courses, make arrangements for the persons in custody to meet their family members and supply them with information on community resources.
The department runs a compulsory treatment programme for convicted drug addicts that serves as an alternative to imprisonment. Addicts aged between 14 and 20 are accommodated separately from the adults, but the length of treatment is the same, ranging from two to 12 months of in-centre treatment followed by one year of statutory supervision.
In all correctional institutions, there are on-site hospitals staffed by qualified personnel to provide basic healthcare services. Persons in custody who need specialist treatment are referred to visiting specialists or public hospitals for follow-up.
Two visiting Justices of the Peace visit each penal institution fortnightly or monthly, depending on the type of facility. The Justices of the Peace receive and investigate complaints from persons in custody, inspect their diets and examine their living and working conditions.