Living conditions

The law establishes a minimum standard for living space per prisoner


The law does not specify a minimum surface area per person. The standard, in practice, is 6 m2. Most cells have a surface area of 8 to 10 m2. They are furnished1.

  1. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), “Report to the Norwegian Government on the visit to Norway (from 28 to 5 June 2018)”, 2019, p. 38. 

Prisoners are accommodated in single cells

in most institutions

Accommodation is essentially single individuals per cell.
As of December 31, 2017, there are 3,500 individual cells, 530 double cells, and 94 cells for two or more persons1.

  1. Ibid., p. 38. 

Prisoners sleep on

  • a bed
  • bunk beds

All the prisoners are provided with bedding


Each cell has a window, which provides natural light. Ventilation in cells is not always adequate.
Windows in newly-built facilities do not have security bars1.

  1. Ibid., p. 38. 

The cells/dormitories are provided with electric lighting


The cells/dormitories are equipped with heating and/or air conditioning

in most cases

Heating and air-conditioning systems in older buildings are often defective.

Prisoners can smoke

  • in the cell
  • in communal spaces

Inmates are allowed to smoke outside in communal areas.

In its 2018 report, the CPT considered the living conditions of Norwegian prisons to be high1.

  1. Ibid., p. 5 

Prisoners have access to water

  • in their cell
  • outside of their cell

Showers are located in the cells/dormitories

in some facilities

Only cells in newer facilities have showers.

Access to the showers is restricted when they are communal and outside the cells.

Types of sanitary facilities


Sanitary facilities are clean, adequate and accessible

in most facilities

Some older institutions are still not equipped with toilets in the cells, including women’s facilities or units. The NPM says that the toilet partitioning fitted in the cells in Kragerø Women’s Prison does not reach the floor or ceiling. Privacy is not guaranteed1. The cells are usually locked up at 7pm. Access to outside sanitary facilities can be difficult at night.

  1. Sivilombudsmannen (Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman), “Women in Prison: a thematic report about the conditions for female prisoners in Norway”, 2017, p. 23. 

The prison service provides personal hygiene products free of charge


The prison service provides cleaning products free of charge


Beddings are refreshed


Bedding is changed once every one to two weeks.

Prisoners wear their own clothing. Relatives can send them by mail or new clothes can be purchased through the facility.

A laundry is available in each prison. It may be a laundry service or individual depending on the size of the facility.

The prison administration organizes the cleaning of the facilities differently depending on their type.

Closed facilities delegate one prisoner per wing with the cleaning of the common areas. Open facilities leave the organization of cleaning to the inmates. Inmates are always responsible for the cleanliness of their cells.

Drinking water is free and available in all areas of the facilities


Number of meals per day


The number of meals per day is the traditional number in Norway:

  • breakfast
  • lunch (hot dish)
  • dinner (served just at the end of the working day)
  • cold snack (usually bread and cold meat)

Food services are managed by

the prison administration

The prison service is required to meet nutritional standards regarding quality and quantity


The prison service provides food that respects special dietary needs


The alternative meal options are based on religion, philosophy and any medical requirements. Prison inmates may ask the staff about the ingredients used in the dishes.

Prisoners eat their meals in

  • in their cell
  • in a communal space

Most prisoners share meals in a dedicated area. Breakfast and dinner are taken in the unit. Lunch is taken in the canteen of the facility.

Prisoners assigned to an old facility take their meals in their cells, in the absence of a canteen. This is also the case for persons in solitary confinement and most remand prisoners.

Prisoners can buy food products


Prisoners can generally buy foodstuffs once a week. They place an order to the outside, in the absence of inside trade. The small size of many prisons leads to prisoners purchasing goods from local shops.

Prisoners can have access to a refrigerator


Prisoners have a refrigerator in their cell or in their block’s communal kitchen.

Prisoners are allowed to cook in their cells or in a shared space

in most facilities

In many facilities, inmates can prepare their meals in the communal kitchen of their block.

Part of the prisoner's food is produced by the prison

in some facilities

Very few establishments allow on-site food production.