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Prisoners are people, usually raiders or hostile tribals, who have been taken captive by a Colonist. They are unable to leave their prison barracks and can only use facilities (such as a food dispenser or equipment rack) on their own if they are placed inside the prison barracks. You should also notice that your colonists won't interact with objects in the prisoner's cell. For example, if you turn a recently-mined-out compacted steel vein into a cell, but there is still some metal on the ground, your colonists won't haul it away.

Taking a Prisoner

In order to take a prisoner, the following must be present:

  • A fully enclosed area that you want the prisoner(s) to stay.
  • An unclaimed bed or sleeping spot for the prisoner(s) to sleep on. (In order to make it a prisoner's bed, you need to click the bed/sleeping spot and click the button that says "Set for prisoners". The bed will turn orange with an orange outline of the room indicating what will be considered a cell. You must have one bed per prisoner)

To arrest a prisoner, first select a drafted colonist, then right-click the target to arrest, and select 'Try to arrest <name>'. This will order the colonist to chase after, then escort, the target person. Sometimes the target will 'refuse to be arrested' (with a top of screen message) and your colonist will not reattempt to capture the pawn unless you direct them to do so. While conducting an arrest, if the drafted colonist has a mental break, the colonist will drop the prisoner and the prisoner will attempt to escape if they are not incapacitated.

Incapacitated pawns can be captured, without the need to draft a colonist.

Raiders cannot be arrested. They must be captured if you wish to take one as a prisoner. To capture a raider you must incapacitate them first, then right-click on them and select 'Capture <name>'. This will order the colonist to drag the raider to an unclaimed prison bed or prisoner sleeping spot.

Hosting a Prisoner

A prisoner will require a bed or sleeping spot. Prisoners, like colonists, require food and medical attention or they may die. If the cell is broken, the prisoner will make an attempt to escape but can only be recaptured if the Taking a Prisoner conditions are met.

A solution to instantly meeting the conditions can be to convert one or more of the colonists bed (provided the colonist have a private room with a claim sleeping spot or bed) into a prison bed, and if necessary add enough sleeping spots in the same room to house all prisoners, while the real prisons are being built.

Multiple prison beds can be built in the same prison room, so several prisoners can be held in one room for "compact prisoner storage", but if the door or wall is broken they will all escape at the same time, and prisoners kept this way suffer a mood penalty.

Prisoners Interaction

Only wardens and doctors can interact with prisoners. Interactions are determined by the option chosen selected in the Prisoner Interface. Other than the "Gets food", "Try to recruit", "Doctors care", and "Gets medicine" options, only one interaction in the Prisoner Interface may be selected at a time. If a prisoner is incapacitated, a doctor is required to feed the prisoner.

Gets food

Wardens will provide food to the prisoner if available. When this option is unchecked a prisoner may eat meals left in a stockpile in the room or from a nutrient paste dispenser, if one is accessible and stocked.

Medical care

Determines the medical care administered to the prisoner.

Ranges from no care at all, to doctor care only, to best medicine available, similarly to doctoring colonists.

No interaction

Wardens will not interact with the prisoner, causing no effect to relations.

Friendly chat

Wardens will have a conversation with the prisoner, causing an increase in relations between the warden and the prisoner, as well as the Social skill of the warden. This improves the chance of recruiting them later on.

Chat and recruit

Wardens will try to convince the prisoner to join the colony, but will only have a small chance to succeed.

To maximize the recruit chance by fulfilling the prisoner's needs: make sure the cell is beautiful (potted plants, carpet, etc), lit, spacious, with a comfortable bed, and has a table and chair for the prisoner to eat off of. The carpet and plants should be done early on, as it is a big bonus for little effort. Have a separate cell for each prisoner, both to remove the "sharing rooms" debuff and to prevent them from killing one another. Feed prisoners your best food, set your colonist with the highest social rating as Warden, and wait.


This will release the prisoner giving +15 goodwill with the faction once they leave the map. However you will receive no goodwill bonus from releasing the prisoner if they belong to a pirate faction.

Releasing an arrested colonist will have them rejoin your colony.

Note: Colonists are unable to release a prisoner who is incapacitated; you either have to heal them before releasing them, replace their missing legs (typically with your trusty peg leg) or simply kill them.


The warden will kill the prisoner, causing a -5 mood debuff for the entire colony (10.0 days).

Prison breaks

Prisoners have a small chance to decide to break out and escape. During this time, they are able to open all prison doors like your colonists, and will attempt to equip weapons.

In a break, all prisoners in a cell/ barracks will escape. Prisoners from different cells may also join in, or choose not to do so.

Prisoner break events are rolled per prisoner, meaning that the more prisoners you have, the greater the chance of a prison break happening.

To fight escaping prisoners with less risk of killing them, use blunt weaponry, unarmed melee, or a single colonist shooting them. Be careful about downed wardens as they will steal weapons from them, making them harder to fight. Place your exits away from the map edge, preferably facing a direction where your colonists can quickly respond to breakouts. Funneling all prisoners into 1 exit also helps in dealing with prison breaks by allowing wardens to deal with them 1 at a time.

Unwanted Prisoners

There are many ways to 'get rid of' unwanted prisoners.
Has a negative impact on your colonists, even when they are considered guilty (though less; -2 compared to -5 on an innocent prisoner).

Colonists with the psychopath trait will not be negatively affected.

Note that death of any prisoner outside execution leads to a negative mood modifier over the death of a defenseless prisoner outside of an orderly execution.

Organ removal* 
You can remove one kidney and lung without prisoner dying, so these are freebies. Removing important body parts(like heart) will kill the prisoner. Gives all colonists a negative mood modifier even if the prisoner survives the surgery.
Set 'gets food' to the false (x) and wait.
Selling To Slaver* 
If combined with organ removal this gets you the most silver. Selling a prisoner will give all colonists trait a negative mood modifier.
Temperature control 
Using heaters or coolers, lower/raise the temperature of the cell to a lethal level.
Manually killing them* 
You can draft a soldier with a weapon and order them to kill the prisoner by clicking 'B' and selecting the prisoner.
The execution in the prisoner interaction menu allows this.
Open the 'Operations' menu in the Health tab, then select 'Euthanize'. A doctor will come in and euthanize the prisoner. Similar to Execution, except it allows doctors to practice medicine.
Financial gains aside, this can be the best option as you get free goodwill without negative mood effects, unless against pirates which do not result in increased goodwill.