Before the Reign of King Rama V
Before the reign of King Rama V, prison affairs were supervised by various government agencies in accordance with the government system which was divided into four departments called Chatusadom or the four pillars by which the prisons were categorized to Bangkok prison and Provincial prisons. Bangkok prison was also divided into 2 types which were “prison” (Khook) and “remand prison” (Ta-Rang).
A prison was a place of detention for the prisoners with an over-6-month sentence and it was under the Metropolitan Ministry (which no longer exists since B.E. 2465). Meanwhile, a remand prison was used for detaining prisoners with a less – than – 6 – month sentence or the prisoners who were not from the ministry, bureau or department of which they were detained. As for the provincial prison affairs, a place of detention was called Ta- rang and the provincial governor was in charge of detention affairs, which may be handed over to the Ministry of Interior or the Ministry of Defence depending on the situation.
During the reign of King Rama V, Rules of Civil Service were remedied. Ordered by King Rama V, a prison and a remand prison were built and respectively called “Kong Ma Han Thot” or the Felony Division and “Kong La Hu Thot” or the Petty Offences Division. These two divisions were under the Metropolitan Ministry. Later in 1901, the Prison Act B.E. 2444 was passed by the King for better administration.
On 13 October 1913, King Rama VI passed an Act on the Establishment of Correctional Department and Phraya Chaivichitvisittammathada (Kham Na Pombejra) was appointed as the first Director General.
During B.E. 2469, Thailand experienced economic depression due to the imbalance of expenditure. To overcome the issue, the Department of Corrections was abolished and assigned to the Ministry of Justice by the order of King Rama VII and later was it transferred to the Ministry of Interior as the Correctional Section.
After the Siamese Revolution of 1932, the Correctional Section regained its status as the Department of Corrections. In B.E. 2479, the Penitentiary Act was passed, defining the role and mission of the Department of Corrections as relating to correctional affairs, detaining those convicted of robbery and crime, training and educating juveniles and rehabilitating. In regions, the prison service was divided to provincial prison and district prison.
In B.E. 2545, the Department of Corrections was transferred to be under the Ministry of Justice again due to the Public Sector Reformation.
Phra Yom, the god of the infernal regions and the ruler of the convicted
Phra Yom is the god of the underworld who is in charge of judging and sentencing the dead. Seated on the lion, Phra Yom has a sword in his right hand and a disk in the left one. The emblem of Phra Yom sitting on the Lion or Phra Ya Yom Ma Raj was first used during the reign of Borommatrailokkanat or Trailok, the king of the Ayutthaya Kingdom (B.E. 1991 – 2031). In the reign of King Rama V, the gold emblem of Phra Yom sitting on the Lion was created to be used as the emblem of the Metropolitan Department by which the Department of Correction was supervised.
Later in B.E. 2542, the Department of Corrections requested the Office of the Prime Minister to officially announce the Phra Yom sitting on the Lion emblem as the emblem of the Department of Corrections.