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Prisoners are people, usually raiders, hostile tribals, or your own colonists undergoing a mental break, who have been taken captive. 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 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 without manually selecting them to do so. Colonists also can't haul food away from cells, even when directed to do so. Animals may still enter the cell on their own and eat that food however.

Taking a Prisoner

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

  1. A fully enclosed cell where you want the prisoner(s) to stay.
  2. At least one unclaimed bed or sleeping spot per prisoner to sleep on in this cell.

Note that several larger devices such as the nutrient paste dispenser count as walls. In order to make 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. Setting one bed for prisoners will set all beds in that room as prison beds. Cells cannot be shared with non-prisoners. Also note that changing bed settings while a colonist is already carrying a captive may cause your pawn to release the other and generate the need to recapture which can as well result in the death of the outsider.

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.

Prisoners can be marked as 'guilty' through some actions, such as attacking the colony, killing/downing a colonist or attempting escape. During these times, executing that prisoner incurs a lesser mood penalty.

Hosting a Prisoner

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' beds (provided the colonist have a private room with a claimed 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. Prisoners without their own rooms will suffer a mood penalty, the same as colonists.

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.


Determines if your colonists will take care of prisoners, or just let them die.

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 level of medical care administered to the prisoner. The range is similar to doctoring colonists: no care at all, to doctor care only, to medicine levels available.

Medical operations

You can also operate on any prisoners, the same way you operate on colonists.

This allows you to do things such as handicapping the prisoner to make them unable to escape (installing a peg leg then removing it), harvesting their organs, administering drugs or euthanizing them.

Social Interactions

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, depending on each prisoner's recruitment difficulty percentage, their current mood, their faction, how many colonists you currently have, as well as your storyteller. Wardens will gain Social rapport with each prisoner over time, making recruiting easier and lasting past their recruitment.

To maximize the recruit chance by fulfilling the prisoner's needs: make sure the cell is beautiful (potted plants, carpet, art, 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.


Wardens will take the prisoner outside and free the prisoner, who will then promptly leave the map.

Releasing an arrested colonist will have them rejoin your colony.

Releasing a prisoner from another faction will give +15 goodwill with their faction once they leave the map, provided he or she didn't belong to a pirate faction. Note that this bonus only happens as soon as they "leave the map". If that prisoner can't walk, then he or she can't leave the map. To prevent this, only prisoners capable of walking can be released. If they are incapacitated and you want to release them, then you have to heal them before releasing them if possible.


The warden will kill the prisoner, causing a -5 mood debuff for any colonist without the psychopath trait for 10.0 days, unless they are considered guilty. Executing guilty prisoners only causes a -2 mood debuff.

Note that euthanasia also kills the prisoner but only gives a -3 mood debuff and trains your doctors, too. Guilty prisoners euthanized will still give a -2 mood penalty.


Colonists can escort prisoners from hospitals where the bed settings were both for prisoner and hospital to another cell exclusively set for prisoner only without risking accidental release.

Escorting prisoner from one cell to another.

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

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

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 several ways to 'get rid of' unwanted prisoners. Most involve the death the prisoner. Any colonist without the psychopath trait will get a negative mood effect from a prisoner dying. Normally this effect is -5, but euthanasia gives a lighter -3 penalty, and if a prisoner is considered guilty and is executed/euthanized, it will only be -2.

Organ removal* 
You can remove one kidney and one lung without prisoner dying. Removing important, singular body parts like the heart will kill the prisoner. Removing any organ will give all colonists without the psychopath trait a negative mood modifier.
Set 'gets food' to the false (x) and wait. The prisoner will have the negative thoughts and resulting mental breaks associated with hunger. This may cause prisoners in shared cells to attack each other, including them severely injuring/killing ones you don't want dead.
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 and the seller a Social penalty.
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, and has a lighter mood penalty.
Financial gains aside, this can be the best option as you get free goodwill without negative mood effects. Not very useful against pirates as it does not result in increased goodwill, but it does prevent the mood debuffs that normally result from getting rid of unwanted prisoners.