Changi Prison

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Changi Prison is the biggest and most important prison in Singapore, though not the only one. It is close to Changi Village in the far east of the country. Built in 1936, it houses the most serious criminal offenders in the country, and is the detention site for death row inmates before they are executed by hanging.

Following the Fall of Singapore in February 1942, the Japanese military used the British Army barracks on the eastern peninsula of Singapore as a prisoner of war camp. It held 87,000 Allied POWs during World War II.

Compared to the conditions in most Japanese POW camps at the time, Changi was comparatively comfortable, and only 850 POWs died there.[1] Many prisoners died only after being transferred from Changi to notorious Japanese labour camps, including the Burma Railway and Sandakan airfield.

James Clavell is one of the most famous survivors. He wrote about his experiences in the book King Rat. While being held there, RAF bombadier Stanley Warren painted a series of murals at the prison chapel.

Australian prisoners of war built a chapel at the prison in 1944, which is now the National Prisoner of War Memorial in Duntroon, Canberra.

The fortunes of a fictional group of Australian POWS were dramatised in the controversial television series Changi, screened by Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2001.

In the early 2000s, the the Singapore Prisons Service announced its decision to demolish the prison and to move it to a new consolidated prison complex in a neighbouring site. In view of its historical significance, the Preservation of Monuments Board worked with the Prisons service and the Urban Redevelopment Authority to allow the front gates of the old prison to be preserved and moved to the new prison.

Corporal punishment

Caning is carried out at Changi Prison every Tuesday and Thursday. Strokes of the rattan are administered across prisoners' bare buttocks in a special room, either as part of a court sentence or for prison disciplinary reasons. The number of strokes applied varies from 1 to 24 depending on the seriousness of the offence. Upwards of 60 youths and men are disciplined in this manner at each caning session. See Caning in Singapore.


  • Fong, Tanya. "New Changi Prison goes high-tech." The Straits Times: August 16, 2004.[2]
  • Choo, Johnson. "New technology at Changi Prison Complex allows focus on rehabilitation." Channel News Asia: August 16, 2004.[3]

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