The three Victorian wings of Cardiff Prison underwent a major refurbishment programme in 1996, and the prison’s capacity was extended by the commissioning of three new wings (C, D and E), with the number of places for life-sentenced prisoners increased also.
In 1997 Cardiff Prison was criticised for chaining sick inmates to their hospital beds after a probe into the death of one of Cardiff’s prisoners.
Cardiff Prison was criticised in 2001 for its cell-share policy in the wake of an inmate’s death. Prison officials were advised to carry out full checks on prisoners on their arrival, to prevent violent or even fatal incidents from occurring. A year later the prison was criticised again for its poor record in dealing with drug abuse and providing decent recreation facilities for inmates.
A total of 20 judicial executions took place at Cardiff prison. The condemned prisoners were hanged for the crime of murder. Their names, ages and dates of execution are:
- William Lacey, 29 yrs, 21 August 1900
- Eric Lange, 30 yrs, 21 December 1904
- Rhoda Wills, 44 yrs, 14 August 1907 (female)
- George Stills, 30 yrs, 13 December 1907
- Patrick Collins, 24 yrs, 30 December 1908
- Hugh McLaren, 29 yrs, 14 August 1913
- Edgar Bindon, 19 yrs, 25 March 1914
- Alec Bakerlis, 24 yrs, 10 April 1917
- Thomas Caler, 23 yrs, 14 April 1920
- Lester Hamilton, 25 yrs, 16 August 1921
- George Thomas, 26 yrs, 9 March 1926
- Edward Rowlands, 40 yrs, 27 January 1928
- Daniel Driscoll, 34 yrs, 27 January 1928
- William Corbett, 32 yrs, 12 August 1931
- George Roberts, 29 yrs, 8 August 1940
- Howard Grossley, 37 yrs, 5 September 1945
- Evan Hadyn Evans, 22 yrs, 3 February 1948
- Clifford Wills, 31 yrs, 9 December 1948
- Ajit Singh, 27 yrs, 7 May 1952
- Mahmood Mattan, 28 yrs, 3 September 1952 – (conviction quashed in February 1998)
The remains of executed prisoners were buried in unmarked graves within the prison walls, as was customary. In late 2003, after capital punishment had been abolished in the UK, the remains of the 6 most recently executed prisoners (i.e. William Corbett, George Roberts, Howard Grossley, Evan Evans, Clifford Wills and Ajit Singh) were exhumed from the prison grounds and reburied elsewhere. The exhumations took place in order to make space for the construction of a new cell block.
The remains of Mahmood Mattan (executed in 1952 but cleared of murder in 1998) had previously been exhumed from the same location for reburial in 1996. Mattan is now buried in the muslim section of Western Cemetery, Cardiff. His tombstone bears the epitaph “Killed by Injustice”. After Mattan’s conviction was quashed, his widow Laura and three sons (David, Omar and Mervyn) received the sum of £725,000 in compensation from the British Government.
The prison today
Cardiff Prison accepts male adult prisoners remanded into custody who are drawn predominantly from the surrounding court catchment area of South Wales. In addition Cardiff also houses sentenced Category B and C prisoners.
Cardiff’s regime includes full time education, employment in the prison workshops, and training courses. There is a resettlement unit that offers prisoners various offending behaviour programmes and work based courses, and a Detoxification Unit accommodating 50 prisoners.