Prisons Act


Published: 1943-08-10

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Prisons Act
PRISONS [CH.208 – 1


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[Original Service 2001] STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS

PRISONS
CHAPTER 208


PRISONS

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

SECTION

1. Short title.
2. Interpretation.
3. Prisons of The Bahamas.
4. District prisons.
5. Rules.
6. Power to amend Schedule.
7. Gratuity in respect of officer killed in the course of duty.
8. Pensionable status of certain officers.
9. Conditions of service and appointment of subordinate officers.
10. Offence of desertion.
11. Prison officer to be peace officer.
12. Certain fines to be credited to Deposits Fund.

Employment of Prisoners

13. Employment of prisoners.

Corporal Punishment for Prison Offences

14. Corporal punishment.
15. Instrument to be used.
16. Number of lashes.

Miscellaneous

17. Removal of sick person to hospital.
18. Removal of prisoners in certain cases.
19. Attendance of prisoners at court as witnesses.
20. Discharge when term expires on Sunday or public holiday.
21. Prison committee may administer oaths.

CH.208 – 2] PRISONS





STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS [Original Service 2001]

Release of Prisoners on Licence

22. Power to Governor-General to grant licence to prisoner to be at large.
23. Holder of licence to be allowed to go at large.
24. Apprehension of prisoner where licence revoked.
25. Execution of warrant.
26. Apprehended prisoner to be brought up for recommitment.
27. Recommitment.
28. Penalty for breach of conditions of licence.
29. Extramural employment of prisoners.

SCHEDULE



PRISONS [CH.208 – 3


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[Original Service 2001] STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS

CHAPTER 208

PRISONS
An Act to provide for the establishment and government

of prisons and for other purposes connected therewith.
[Assent 21st June, 1943]

[Commencement 10th August, 1943]

1. This Act may be cited as the Prisons Act.
2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires —
“medical officer” means any qualified medical practi-

tioner appointed to the medical charge of any
prison;

“Minister” means the Minister responsible for Pris-
ons;

“prison” means and includes any place or premises
declared to be a prison under this Act, end shall
be taken to comprise every gaol, hospital, asylum
and every other place however called which is or
shall be used for the confinement of prisoners
charged with or convicted of any offence;

“prisoner” includes every inmate of any prison
detained therein under remand pending trial or
under conviction of or sentence for any offence;

“rules” means the rules made by the Minister under
the authority of this Act.

“subordinate officer” means any officer of the Prison
Department holding an office specified in the
Schedule to this Act;

22 of 1943
37 of 1945
22 of 1948
14 of 1950
30 of 1953
45 of 1954
46 of 1954
7 of 1956
14 of 1956
15 of 1956
1 of 1957
10 of 1960
15 of 1961
3 of 1962
21 of 1964
G.N. 172/1964
43 of 1964
84 of 1965
38 of 1968
9 of 1969
S.I. 54/1969
9 of 1972
E.L.A.O., 1974
15 of 1977
of 1981
5 of 1987
9 of 1997

Short title.

Interpretation.

E.L.A.O., 1974.

E.L.A.O., 1974.

9 of 1972, s. 2.

Schedule.

CH.208 – 4] PRISONS





STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS [Original Service 2001]

“visiting committee” means any committee appointed
by the Minister under the rules in connection
with any prison.

3. The prisons of The Bahamas shall consist of —
(a) the prison in New Providence;
(b) the several places in The Bahamas now used as

prisons;
(c) prisons declared to be such by the Minister under

section 4 of this Act.
4. (1) It shall be lawful for the Minister to declare

any police station or part of any such police station or any
other suitable premises to be a prison.

(2) A declaration made under subsection (1) shall be
published in the Gazette as soon as may be after the
making thereof.

(3) Any person sentenced on summary conviction to
imprisonment with or without hard labour for any term not
exceeding twenty-eight days or such other period as may
be prescribed by rules under section 5 of this Act and any
person detained on suspicion or while awaiting trial may be
imprisoned at the nearest prison or at the prison in New
Providence.

5. The Minister may make rules —
(a) for the government of the prisons and for the

conduct and duties of the officers thereof;
(b) for the discipline of officers, including the

definition of disciplinary offences and the pro-
cedure to be followed in hearing and determining
disciplinary offences against officers;

(c) for the award of medals, badges or other awards
to officers, for such services or acts as may be
prescribed, and for the wearing of such medals,
badges or awards;

(d) for the prevention of abuses in the wearing of
medals, badges or awards;

(e) for the diet, clothing, maintenance, employment,
discipline and punishment of the prisoners;

(f) for regulating. the discharge from prison and
return to his residence of any prisoner who
resides in an island other than New Providence
and who wishes to return thereto and for paying
any reasonable expenses in connection therewith;

E.L.A.O., 1974.

Prisons of The
Bahamas.
E.L.A.O., 1974.

District prisons.

E.L.A.O., 1974.

E.L.A.O., 1974.

43 of 1964, Third
Sch.

Rules.
15 of 1977, s. 2.

PRISONS [CH.208 – 5


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[Original Service 2001] STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS

(g) for regulating the carrying out of the execution
of the judgment of death, and for guarding
against abuse in such execution, and also for
giving greater solemnity to the same, and for
making known throughout the prison walls the
fact that such execution is taking place.

6. The Governor-General may from time to time
by order amend or revoke and replace the Schedule to this
Act.

7. In the case of the death of an officer in the
prison service as the direct result of an injury received
during the course of his employment, it shall be lawful for
the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the
advice of the Public Service Commission, to award to the
dependants of the deceased officer, in such proportions as
advised, a sum equal to one year’s salary which such
deceased officer was receiving at the date of his death.

8. (1) Every officer in the prison service other than
a subordinate prison officer or other contract officer shall
be deemed to be serving in a pensionable office.

(2) The whole continuous service of every such officer
in the prison service as is referred to in subsection (1) other
than leave without salary and any previous service during
which such officer has received both salary and pension or
gratuity under section 13 of the Public Service Act, or the
provisions of the Pensions Act, as the case may be, shall be
deemed to be pensionable service for the purposes of the
Pensions Act whether the whole or any of such service was
pensionable or otherwise.

9. (1) A subordinate officer on first appointment
shall be not less than eighteen years of age, and no person
shall be eligible for appointment who cannot read, write,
produce satisfactory evidence of good character and be
passed by a medical officer as physically fit for the duties
of his office.

(2) Subject to the provisions of this Act, a
subordinate officer shall be appointed for one year.

(3) Subject as aforesaid, a subordinate officer may be
re-appointed for successive periods of five years until the
completion of thirty years of service or the attainment of
the age of fifty years, whichever event shall first occur.

Power to amend
Schedule.
9 of 1972, s. 3.

Gratuity in
respect of officer
killed in the
course of duty.
8 of 1981, s. 2.

Pensionable
status of certain
officers.
8 of 1981, s. 2.

Ch. 39.

Ch. 43.

Conditions or
service and
appointment of
subordinate
officers.
9 of 1969, s. 21.;
9 of 1972, s. 4.

9 of 1997, s. 2

9 of 1997, s. 2.

CH.208 – 6] PRISONS





STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS [Original Service 2001]

(4) Nothing in subsection (3) shall prevent the re-
appointment of any officer mentioned in that subsection
successively from year to year for a period not exceeding a
total of ten years after the completion of thirty years of
service or the attainment of the age of fifty years as
aforesaid:

Provided that at every re-appointment the person
applying to be re-appointed shall be found physically fit
and be recommended by the Superintendent of Prisons for
re-appointment.

(5) A subordinate officer wishing to be re-appointed
pursuant to subsection (4), shall apply in writing to the
Superintendent of Prisons not less than three months
before the date on which the subordinate officer is to retire.

10. (1) Any subordinate officer who after having
signed an engagement to serve in the prison service for a
specified period, deserts or leaves the service without
lawful permission before his term of engagement has
expired shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on
summary conviction to a fine of eighty dollars or to four
months imprisonment or to both such fine and imprison-
ment. Any term of imprisonment awarded under this
subsection shall be served in the New Providence prison.

(2) Any subordinate officer who is absent without
leave for any period exceeding forty-eight hours or who
withdraws from duty before he has been lawfully
discharged from the prison service shall be deemed a
deserter and liable to be punished accordingly.

11. Every male prison officer while acting as such
shall, by virtue of his appointment and without being
sworn in, be deemed to be a peace officer and shall have all
the powers and privileges of a peace officer.

12. (1) All fines imposed under the provisions of
this Act or any rule made thereunder for any offence
against discipline shall be paid to the Consolidated Fund to
be placed to the credit of the Deposits Fund.

(2) No payment shall be made from the Deposits
Fund except upon the authority of the Minister on the
recommendation of the Superintendent of Prisons in whose
discretion payments may be sanctioned for the following
purposes —

9 of 1997, s. 2.

9 of 1997, s. 2.

Offence of
desertion.
30 of 1953, s. 2;
45 of 1954, s. 2.

5 of 1987, s. 2.

Prison officer to
be peace officer.

Certain fines to
be credited to
Deposits Fund.
3 of 1962, s. 3..
5 of 1987, Sch.

43 of 1969, Third
Sch.
5 of 1987, Sch.

PRISONS [CH.208 – 7


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[Original Service 2001] STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS

(a) assistance to the widows or families of deceased
subordinate officers or to any subordinate officer
discharged from the Prison Service as medically
unfit, if such widows, families or subordinate
officers are in destitute or necessitous circum-
stances;

(b) assistance in case of long continued illness of a
subordinate officer involving loss or suspension
of pay;

(c) assistance in case of illness of a subordinate
officer’s family or those dependant upon him or
in any similar case of unusual expense caused by
illness which the officer is called upon to bear;

(d) payments to subordinate officers as rewards for
meritorious acts of service in the execution of
duty, if such payments are not met from the
revenue of The Bahamas;

(e) contributions towards prizes to be given at
athletic meetings and similar events organised
by or for the benefit of the Prison Service;

(f) expenditure for the benefit and advancement of
authorised recreation and sport and other
branches of welfare activity organised within the
Prison Service.

Employment of Prisoners
13. (1) Prisoners sentenced to penal servitude or to

imprisonment with hard labour may be employed at hard
labour within or without the walls of a prison subject to the
rules.

(2) Hard labour or penal servitude when performed
within a prison shall consist of such work as may be
prescribed by the rules.

(3) Hard labour or penal servitude when performed
without the walls of a prison shall consist of the employ-
ment of the prisoner subject to the rules at any place on any
work of public utility.

(4) No prisoner shall be employed at hard labour on
Sunday, or Good Friday, or Christmas Day.

Employment of
prisoners.

CH.208 – 8] PRISONS





STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS [Original Service 2001]

(5) The Minister shall make provision for the
employment subject to the rules of all convicted criminal
prisoners not sentenced to penal servitude or to hard
labour, but no prisoner not sentenced to penal servitude or
to hard labour shall be punished for neglect of work except
by such alteration in the scale of diet as may be provided
by the rules in the case of neglect of work by such
prisoners.

1Corporal Punishment for Prison Offences
14. (1) Corporal punishment may be inflicted on

male prisoners for such prison offences as may be
prescribed by the rules.

(2) Every infliction of corporal punishment with the
cat shall be attended by the Superintendent of Prisons or
such other prison officer as may be delegated by him and
the medical officer.

(3) The medical officer shall give such orders for
preventing injury to the health of a prisoner on whom
corporal punishment is inflicted as he may deem necessary
and it shall be the duty of the Superintendent to carry them
into effect and the Superintendent shall enter in the
punishment book the hour at which the punishment is
inflicted, the number of lashes and any order which the
medical officer may have given on the occasion.

215. (1) Corporal punishment for a prison offence in
the case of a male prisoner of or over sixteen years of age
shall be inflicted with a cat or rod and in the case of a male
prisoner under that age with a rod.

(2) The cat and rod shall be of patterns approved by
the Minister.

316. The number of lashes inflicted for a prison
offence on a prisoner of or over sixteen years of age shall
not exceed twenty-four and on a prisoner under that age,
eighteen.


1 But see now Penal Code (Ch. 84) s. 118, Abolition of corporal punishment.
2 See note in footnote 1.
3 See note in footnote 1.

E.L.A.O. 1974

Corporal
punishment.

43 of 1964, Third
Sch.

Instrument to be
used.

E.L.A.O., 1974.

Number of
lashes.

PRISONS [CH.208 – 9


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Miscellaneous
17. The Superintendent of Prisons may, on the

certificate of the medical officer, by instrument in writing
direct that any sick, diseased or insane prisoner be taken
from prison to any hospital or other suitable place for
medical treatment for so long as may be necessary, and the
time during which the prisoner is in such hospital or place
shall be counted as part of the term for which he was
sentenced:

Provided that, in the case of a prisoner detained in an
Out Island prison who, in the opinion of the Commissioner,
is seriously ill and requires immediate medical attention,
the Commissioner may by warrant direct that such prisoner
be taken from prison to any hospital or other suitable place
for medical treatment for so long as may be necessary, and
shall forthwith report the fact to the Minister responsible
for Local Government for confirmation of such warrant by
the Superintendent of Prisons by instrument in writing. The
time during which the prisoner is in such hospital or place
shall be counted as part of the term for which he was
sentenced.

18. (1) Any prisoner may by instrument under the
hand and official seal of the Minister be confined in any
prison in any part of The Bahamas or may be removed
from one prison to another prison for the purpose of
enabling the prison to be altered, enlarged or rebuilt, or in
the case of contagious or infectious disease breaking out in
the prison in which he is then confined, or for other
reasonable cause; and any prisoner removed from a prison
in pursuance of this section may by instrument under the
hand and official seal of the Minister be taken back to the
prison or be removed to any other prison. In default of and
until any such instrument shall be given and subject to the
provisions of this Act prisoners shall be confined to the
prison in New Providence.

(2) Any such instrument of the Minister shall protect
all persons acting thereunder to the same extent as persons
are now by law protected for acting under the authority of
warrants of arrest or warrants of commitment in criminal
cases.

(3) In the case of an infectious or contagious disease
occurring in an Out Island prison, or in the event of the
destruction of any such prison by fire, or in any other


Removal of sick
person to
hospital.
9 of 1972, s. 5.

Removal of
prisoners in
certain cases.
9 of 1972, s. 5.

CH.208 – 10] PRISONS





STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS [Original Service 2001]

emergency, the Commissioner may take such steps and
issue such directions as he may deem necessary for the
segregation or confinement of prisoners. He shall forth-
with report the circumstances to the Minister responsible
for Local Government and pending any instrument issued
under subsection (1) of this section any directions issued
by the Commissioner shall protect all persons acting there-
under to the same extent as persons are now by law
protected if acting under the authority of warrants of arrest
or warrants of commitment in criminal cases; and any
building temporarily used for the confinement of any such
prisoners shall be deemed to be a prison within the
meaning of subsection (1) of section 4 of this Act.

19. The officer in charge of any prison shall comply
with any direction given by the Supreme Court or any
magistrate’s court, in accordance with sections 65, 130 or
144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, for the attendance of
any prisoner required for trial in respect of any offence, to
give evidence or to be present at the taking of any
deposition.

20. A prisoner whose sentence expires on a Sunday
or on a public holiday shall be discharged on the previous
day.

21. In every case of alleged breach of prison discipline
the persons who by the rules are authorised to investigate
and decide on such alleged offence shall have full power
and authority to summon witnesses and to take evidence
on oath from any witness appearing before them, and if
any person having taken oath shall wilfully and corruptly
give any false evidence on any matter or question material
to the subject then under investigation every person so
offending shall be deemed and be taken to be guilty of
perjury and shall and may be criminally proceeded against
for such offence in the same manner as if the proceeding
in which the false evidence was given had been a judicial
proceeding in a court of law.

Release of Prisoners on Licence
22. (1) The Governor-General may grant to any

prisoner a licence to be at large within The Bahamas, or in
such part thereof as is in such licence expressed, during
such portion of his term of imprisonment and upon such


Attendance of
prisoner in
accordance with
directions of
court.
38 of 1968, s. 3, s.
63 and 4th Sch.

Discharge when
term expires on
Sunday or public
holiday.

Prison committee
may administer
oaths.

Power to
Governor-
General to grant
licence to
prisoner to be at
large.

PRISONS [CH.208 – 11


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conditions as the Governor-General may deem fit. The
Governor-General may at any time revoke or alter such
licence.

(2) In the exercise of the powers conferred upon
him by this section the Governor-General shall act in
accordance with the advice of the Minister for the time
being designated under paragraph (2) of Article 90 of the
Constitution.

23. So long as such licence continues in force and
unrevoked, such prisoner shall not be liable to imprison-
ment by reason of his sentence, but shall be allowed to go
and remain at large, according to the terms of such licence.

24. In the case of the revocation of any such licence
as aforesaid the Governor-General may by order in writing
signify to the magistrate or justice of the peace that such
licence has been revoked, and require him to issue a
warrant for the apprehension of the prisoner to whom such
licence was granted, and such magistrate or justice of the
peace shall issue his warrant accordingly.

25. Such warrant may be executed by any officer to
whom it may be directed or delivered for that purpose in
any part of The Bahamas, and shall have the same force in
any place within The Bahamas as if it had been originally
issued, or subsequently endorsed, by the magistrate or
justice of the peace or other authority having jurisdiction in
the place where the same is executed.

26. The prisoner, when apprehended under such
warrant, shall be brought, as soon as conveniently may be,
before the magistrate or justice of the peace by whom it
had been issued, or before some other magistrate or justice
of the peace of the same place, or before a magistrate or
justice of the peace having jurisdiction in the district in
which the prisoner is apprehended. Such magistrate or
justice of the peace shall thereupon make out his warrant
under his hand and seal for the recommitment of the
prisoner to the prison from which he was released by virtue
of the said licence.

27. Such prisoner shall be recommitted accordingly,
and shall thereupon be liable to be imprisoned for such


Holder of licence
to be allowed to
go at large.

Apprehension of
prisoner where
licence revoked.

Execution of
warrant.

Apprehended
prisoner to be
brought up for
recommitment.

Recommitment.

CH.208 – 12] PRISONS





STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS [Original Service 2001]

further period as, with the time during which he may have
been imprisoned under the original sentence, and the time
during which he may have been at large under an
unrevoked licence, is equal to the period mentioned in the
original sentence.

28. If a licence be granted under section 23 of this
Act upon any condition specified therein, and the prisoner
to whom the licence is granted violates any such condition,
or goes beyond the limits specified in the licence, or,
knowing of the revocation of such licence, neglects
forthwith to surrender himself, or conceals himself, or
endeavours to avoid being apprehended, he shall be liable
upon conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for a
period not exceeding the full period of imprisonment
mentioned in the original sentence.

29. (1) For the purpose of this section —
“prisoner” means a prisoner who —

(i) is serving a sentence of imprisonment for a
term of two years or more, or consecutive
terms of imprisonment amounting in the
aggregate to two years or more, with or
without hard labour, and

(ii) having been selected by the Superintendent
and, having been interviewed by the Visiting
Committee, has been approved by the
Visiting Committee as a person suitable for
employment under the provisions of
subsection (2) of this section;

“Superintendent” means the Superintendent or other
officer in charge of a prison.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections
(1), (2) and (3) of section 13 of this Act, the Superintendent
may grant a licence, subject to the conditions and in the
form prescribed by rules made under subsection (7) of this
section to a prisoner permitting him to be outside such
prison between such hours in the forenoon and such hours
in the afternoon as may be approved by the Chairman of
the Visiting Committee and the Superintendent, other than
upon Sundays or Public Holidays, for the purpose of being
gainfully employed by an employer approved by the
Visiting Committee, but such prisoner shall be deemed to


Penalty for
breach of
conditions of
licence.

Extra-mural
employment of
prisoners.
84 of 1965, s. 2.

PRISONS [CH.208 – 13


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remain at all times under the supervision of the said
Superintendent, who may at any time revoke such licence
without incurring liability for any loss or damage suffered
by the employer.

(3) A prisoner employed outside a prison under the
provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall, whilst
outside a prison for the purpose of being so employed or for
the purpose of going to and from the place of such
employment, be deemed to be in lawful custody under
sentence of imprisonment and if he fails to go to such place
of employment, or if he fails to remain at such place of
employment during the hours of such employment and
return to such prison, in accordance with the conditions of
the licence granted to him under the provisions of subsection
(2) of this section, he shall be deemed to have escaped under
the provisions of section 444 of the Penal Code.

(4) An employer employing a prisoner under the
provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall not be
deemed to have the custody of such prisoner within the
meaning of section 442 of the Penal Code.

(5) A person employing a prisoner under the
provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall if
requested by the Superintendent render weekly to the
Superintendent a report on the conduct of such prisoner in
accordance with the conditions and in the form prescribed
by rules made under subsection (7) of this section.

(6) The earnings of a prisoner employed under the
provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall be paid by
the employer to the Superintendent or other officer
deputed by the Superintendent, who shall —
(i) deduct therefrom, from time to time, and

pay to such prisoner such sums as may be
deemed necessary by the Superintendent
for the expenses, including clothing, of
such prisoner when outside the prison in
the course of his employment;

(ii) deduct therefrom, from time to time, and
pay to public funds such sums as may be
approved by the Superintendent for the
rental of a bicycle, or for other means of
conveyance approved by the Superinten-
dent, if any, provided from public funds for
the purpose of enabling a prisoner to travel
to and from his place of employment;

Ch. 84.

Ch. 84.

CH.208 – 14] PRISONS





STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS [Original Service 2001]

(iii) deduct therefrom, from time to time, and
pay to public funds such sums as may be
approved by the Visiting Committee for the
daily cost of board and accommodation of
such prisoner in the prison; and

(iv) deduct therefrom from time to time and pay
to public funds such sums as may be
approved by the Superintendent for the
purchase of a bicycle and all necessary tools
for such prisoner;

(v) from time to time at the request of the
prisoner pay to his dependants such sums as
may be approved by the Visiting Commit-
tee;

(vi) from time to time invest the balance of such
earnings in trust for such prisoner in such
manner and upon such conditions as may
be prescribed by rules made under subsec-
tion (7) of this section and upon release of
such prisoner make such balance available
to him in such amount or amounts and at
such time or times, not later than six
months after his release, as may be ap-
proved by the Visiting Committee.

(7) The Visiting Committee may, with the approval
of the Minister make rules —
(i) prescribing the manner and conditions of

investment of the balances of moneys earned by
prisoners engaged in employment under the
provisions of this section;

(ii) prescribing the conditions and form of licences
granted to prisoners under subsection (2) of this
section;

(iii) prescribing the conditions and form of reports to
be rendered under subsection (5) of this section.

SCHEDULE
Sergeant.
Corporal.
Prison Officer.

E.L.A.O., 1974.

9 of 1972, s. 6.

Related Laws