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, 2022, the department managed 29 correctional facilities with 6,477 staff looking after 7,751 persons in custody and 1,193 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 29 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 institution, 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, part of Lo Wu Correctional Institution and 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. Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution and Nei Kwu Correctional Institution are used for detaining adult males and females under the Immigration Ordinance respectively. Eight 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 2022, 6,491 adults (4,712 men and 1,779 women) were sentenced to imprisonment, 4,562 adults (3,522 men and 1,040 women) were remanded, 91 young offenders were sentenced to imprisonment (81 males and 10 females), and 290 young persons (247 males and 43 females) were remanded. In addition, 233 offenders (197 males and 36 females) were sentenced to detention in training centres, rehabilitation centres or the detention centre, and 394 offenders (326 males and 68 females) were placed in drug addiction treatment centres, while 995 offenders (862 males and 133 females) were remanded pending reports on their suitability for sentencing to one of these centres. Besides, 190 adult males were detained in Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution under the Immigration Ordinance.
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.
The CSD provides young persons in custody under 21 with half-day education, and assists adult persons in custody to participate in continuing education voluntarily. The CSD also assists persons in custody to obtain accredited qualifications by taking public examinations. Those pursuing further studies may apply for financial help from the Prisoners’ Education Trust Fund and other subsidy schemes.
The CSD provides eligible adult persons in custody with the option of taking market-oriented vocational training courses that issue accredited and recognised qualifications. Young persons in custody under 21 may take half-day vocational training programmes. Fifteen correctional facilities offered over 40 full-time and part-time courses in 2022.
The department provides useful 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 2022, a daily average of 3,475 people were engaged at various types of productive work, providing government departments and subvented bodies with a wide range of goods and services. Examples are office furniture, staff uniforms, hospital linen, leather products, filter masks, fiberglass products, traffic signs, metal railings, slabs and kerbs for infrastructure projects. Persons in custody also provide laundry services for the Hospital Authority, Department of Health and Fire Services Department. They laminate books for public libraries, undertake printing work and make file jackets and envelopes for government departments. The commercial value of these goods and services provided by the department was $447 million in 2022.
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.
Convicted drug addicts undergo a compulsory treatment programme as an alternative to imprisonment. Young addicts aged between 14 and 20 are accommodated separately from the adults. They receive two to 12 months of on-site 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.