On the 29th of March 1985 the Department of defence handed over control of the Fort to the Department of Justice. By the summer of 1985 Spike Island was a prison once again, now holding over 120 civilian prisoners, most who had been convicted of the crime of ‘Joyriding’, stealing a car and driving it around dangerously.
They were held in the former Naval service accommodation which was inadequate and in August of 1985 a serious riot broke out, with many buildings destroyed and the islands civilians having to be evacuated.
The prisoners went to school up to 4 days a week with up to 75% involved in some form of education. There is an exhibition of the art created by these prisoners in the upper floor of the Punishment block.
By February 2004 rising costs brought about the closure of the prison and the last of the prisoners were transferred off the island.