In 1867 New Brunswick became one of the four founding provinces of Confederation, and came under the Dominion of Canada’s criminal law. By the 1890s the most important federal statute was the "Criminal Code".
The provincial legislature passed quasi-criminal laws relating to liquor licensing, and municipalities enacted bylaws governing public order, but for the most serious crimes were punished under federal law. The federal authorities also were responsible for the punishment of serious offenders.
In 1880, the old penitentiary in Saint John was closed and the prisoners relocated to the new Dorchester Penitentiary, a federal institution in Albert county.