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This article is about an older version of DF.

Justice is dealt by your Sheriff (later Captain of the guard) or the Hammerer.

Only metal cages and restraints can be set to be used for justice, as jails. Your police force (be it the Sheriff or the Captain and their staff) will use them to contain criminals.

The current number of cages/restraints suggested is indicated on the z Status menu, under the Justice tab. That number is one-tenth (10%) the current population, rounded down. Not meeting this number is supposed to give unhappy thoughts to the Sheriff (or Captain of the Guard), but due to a bug it does not.


  • Violation of Production Order - failing to produce items mandated by a noble.
  • Violation of Export Prohibition - selling items to a caravan which a noble forbade exporting.
  • Violation of Job Order - failing to complete guild jobs mandated by the mayor.
  • Murder - killing a fellow dwarf or a tame animal.
  • Disorderly Conduct - attacking another dwarf while throwing a tantrum.
  • Building destruction - destroying a building during a tantrum.
  • Vandalism - toppling furniture or doors during a tantrum.


Note that if the criminal is wounded at the time of the sentencing, the punishment will be delayed until they are healthy again.

  • Beating - the sheriff or fortress guard punches the dwarf (unarmed) 10 times.
  • X days imprisonment - the sheriff or fortress guard haul the dwarf off to a jail to serve his sentence. If you have no jails, the punishment is downgraded to a Beating.
  • X Hammerstrikes - the Hammerer beats the dwarf with a war hammer, resulting in serious injury or death. If you have no justice chains (cages will not work), the punishment is downgraded to a Beating.

Downgraded punishments give the criminal a happy thought ("glad to have punishment reduced recently") and the injured party an unhappy thought ("upset that a criminal could not be properly punished").


Crime and justice affects dwarven psychology by generating thoughts.

  • A dwarf who smashes property during a tantrum will receive a happy thought. This is a major factor in how a dwarf becomes happy enough to stop tantrumming.
  • A dwarf who commits a crime, particularly violation of work ordesr, will receive a happy thought if there are not enough jail items to imprison him.
  • A noble who makes a mandate will get a happy thought if it is completed, or an unhappy thought if the worker goes free due to insufficient jail items.
  • A dwarf receives an incredibly happy thought upon being released from prison ("is happy to be free"), usually enough to make them ecstatic no matter how many negative thoughts they have accumulated.


For the crimes of murder, disorderly conduct, building destruction, and vandalism, justice is determined by your civilization's ethics - "PUNISH_SERIOUS" will result in either a beating or a month in prison, "PUNISH_CAPITAL" will result in either 8 months in prison or 50 hammerstrikes, and all other responses will result in no punishment at all.