Special populations

Female prisoners

6 % (202)

Percentage of untried female prisoners

27 %


Women prisoners are housed in facilities, blocks or cells exclusively for women.
There are five dedicated facilities (from 13 to 64 places) and eight that house men and have blocks/cells reserved for women (from 4 to 13 places). Two of the dedicated facilities, Bredveit and Kragerø, are classified as maximum security.

There is an effective separation between men and women


Women prisoners participate in cross-gendered recreational, training and work activities in facilities that also accommodate men.

Untried female prisoners are separated from the convicted


Separation is not systematic.

The prison staff is


The male/female ratio varies from one facility to another.

The Execution of Sentences Act provides that female prisoners shall be searched preferably by female staff. If the search is carried out by a man, another staff member must be present. Urine samples are collected by female officers1.

  1. Sivilombudsmannen (Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman), “Women in Prison: a thematic report about the conditions for female prisoners in Norway”, 2017. p.17. 

The national regulatory framework does not sufficiently consider the special situation of women. Pregnant women and mothers are an exception. Some women prisoners are still placed in cells without toilets1.

International standards state: “Hygiene products, including sanitary towels and tampons, shall be readily available and distributed free of charge to prison inmates”. The NPM confirms that Norwegian prisons are compliant with these requirements.

Women’s specific needs are taken into consideration to some extent, but not on a regular basis. The national regulatory framework for imprisonment does not cover the conditions for women in prison at a significant level. The exceptions are the regulations for pregnant women and female inmate with children outside2.

  1. Sivilombudsmannen (Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman), “Women in Prison: a thematic report about the conditions for female prisoners in Norway”, 2017. p.17. 

  2. Ibid., p 22. 

The administration must provide women with access to work, activities and education.

Conjugal visits are allowed for women


Pregnant women are housed in specific units or cells


The legislation provides for a sentence adjustment for pregnant women or women with young children


Pregnant women or mothers may request the postponement of the execution of their sentence, placement under electronic home-supervision or community service.

Pregnant women receive proper prenatal care


Childbirth takes place in

external care facilities

Security staff is prohibited from entering the room during labour and childbirth


Correctional staff must wait outside the delivery room.

The use of instruments of restraint is forbidden during labour and childbirth


Mothers are allowed to keep their children with them


Mothers of young children may be granted a suspension of sentence. They may spend a few months outside with their child before serving the end of their sentence or being granted an alternative measure.

The Directorate of Correctional Services is working to improve the conditions for women by developing a five-year strategy.

The law bans the imprisonment of minors


Minimum age of imprisonment for minors

15 years old

The age of criminal responsibility is 15. The legal age of majority is 18.

Incarcerated minors

0.2 % (6)

Ministry in charge of incarcerated minors

  • Ministry of Justice and Public Security (Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet)
  • Department Ministry of Health and Care Services (Helse- og omsorgsdepartementet)
  • Ministry of Children and Family Affairs (Barne- og familiedepartementet)
  • Ministry of Education and Research (Kunnskapsdepartementet)

Regarding the “import model” various ministries work collaboratively with incarcerated juveniles (Refer to the Staff section).

Minors are not subject to a special justice system.

Minors may face the following penalties:

(a) Juvenile-friendly sentences or juvenile-friendly supervision under the responsibility of the Mediation Service (Konfliktrådet):

  • “Juvenile sentence” (Ungdomsstraff): an alternative punishment to imprisonment. The Mediation Service decides on the conditions of service. Monitoring is carried out by a board appointed for this purpose.

  • “Juvenile monitoring” (Ungdomsoppfølging): punishment like the previous one. It is shorter and is applied for less serious offences.

(b) Criminal proceedings, under the responsibility of the Correctional Service:

  • imprisonment

  • Conditional waiver of prosecution (follow-up determined by a plan)

  • lectronic monitoring: the Correctional Service must, in accordance with the Execution of Sentences Act(Section 16), systematically check that a convicted juvenile offender satisfies the conditions for serving the sentence outside the prison.

The Mediation Service and the Correctional Service are both under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security.

Minors may be placed in a juvenile facility (Ungdomsenhet) or in a dedicated section of an adult facility. The two juvenile facilities are Bjørgvin Prison (west coast) and Eidsvoll Prison (eastern border). They house boys and girls aged 15-18. There are a total of eight places in juvenile facilities1.

  1. Sivilombudsmannen (Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman), “Women in Prison: a thematic report about the conditions for female prisoners in Norway”, 2017. p. 18. 

Figures on minors in prison are published


Minors in prison are separated from adults

in some facilities

Minors awaiting trial are not separated from adults. Convicted minors must be placed in a juvenile facility.

The Execution of Sentences Act provides that “the Prison Service shall always consider placing convicted persons under the age of 18 years in minimum security facilities or halfway houses” (Section 11).

The law provides for single cell accommodation for minors


The schooling of minors is compulsory


Just like every Norwegian citizen, the State guarantees 13 years of schooling to all prisoners.

The law prohibits strip searches for minors


The law forbids solitary confinement for minors


The reasons for placing minors in solitary confinement are studied with greater attention. Control and supervision have been improved.

Minors are not concerned by solitary confinement when it:

  • is ordered by the court to prevent any collusion or corruption of evidence (Criminal Procedure Act, section 186a).

  • ensues from the special rule authorising the solitary confinement of a prisoner likely to commit a crime (maximal duration of 24 hours).

Minors may, if “strictly necessary”, be placed in “security cells”. The regional prison authorities are notified.

For further information, see the Solitary confinement section.

The administration offers more activities opportunities to minors. They have the same duty to be engaged in activities or work as the adults.

The staff in the Youth Units are trained to deal with minors. Half of the staff in these units is educational professionals and the other half is composed by correctional officers. The law provides that “entities that are established especially for inmates under the age of 18 must have an inter-agency team that shall safeguard the needs of young people during the execution of their sentence” (ESA, section 10).

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that imprisonment of minors should be a last resort, and that its duration should be kept as short as possible. The provisions of this instrument have recently been incorporated with other core conventions (ICCPR, UNCAT, CEDAW, ECHR) into the Norwegian Constitution. The Norwegian Supreme Court renders its decisions in accordance with these conventions. Incarceration of minors has decreased in recent years.

Number and percentage of foreign prisoners

31.6 % (1,011)

Variation in the number of foreign prisoners

decrease of 1.2 %

The predominant nationalities represented are Polish, Lithuanian, Albanian, Romanian and Somali.

Foreign prisoners are informed of their right to communicate with their consular representatives


Foreign inmates may speak confidentially with their consular representative.

The prison regulations are translated for foreign prisoners


The Law on the Execution of Sentences is translated into seven languages (Arabic, English, Polish, Russian, Turkish, Lithuanian and Romanian) and the Regulations on the Execution of Sentences are translated into two languages (English and Russian).

The rules and regulations of the facilities are often translated into Arabic, English, Russian, Romanian, German, French and Spanish. The decision to have them translated into other languages is left to the discretion of the governor of the facility.

Foreign prisoners can be assisted by an interpreter

in some cases

Foreign inmates may, during each meeting with their lawyers, be assisted by an interpreter free of charge.

Foreign prisoners are entitled to legal aid


Foreign inmates have the same right to legal aid as Norwegian nationals.

Illegal residence is punishable by one year of imprisonment.

Foreign prisoners are allowed to remain in the country after having served their sentence

under certain circumstances

The authorisation to remain in the country after serving a sentence depends on different criteria, as for example:

  • The type of infraction
  • The person’s immigration status
  • If the return will endanger his/her situation
  • If they have children living in Norway.

Foreign prisoners are allowed to work while incarcerated


Foreign inmates can call their home countries. Prisoners have to pay for their calls and international calls are more expensive.

The administration can grant an extension of the telephone call duration if there are special reasons1.

  1. Sivilombudsmannen (Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman), “Women in Prison: a thematic report about the conditions for female prisoners in Norway”, 2017, p. 48. 

Relatives of the foreign prisoners do not have a special regime for visits. They have the possibility of using Skype in some prisons.

See the Visitation section for further information.

A long-term sentence is considered as such as of

8 years

Cumulative sentences have a limit


Since 1981, the maximum sentence has been 21 years.

There are specific prison facilities for long-term prisoners


Persons serving a long sentence are not subject to a special detention policy.
Decisions concerning prisoners sentenced to more than 10 years (transfers, sentence adjustments, exit permits, etc.) are taken at the regional level (Penal Enforcement Act, section 6).

Life sentences are banned


Life sentence was abolished and replaced, in 1981, by a maximum sentence of 21 years. Nonetheless, a person may be sentenced for 30 years for the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes (Penal Code, sections 101-107).

Preventive detention (forvaring) makes it possible to extend the sentence beyond the maximum. Thus, a life sentence is theoretically possible. To date, no one has been held in detention for more than 21 years.

Percentage of untried prisoners

24 %


Variation in the number of untried prisoners

decrease of 1 %

Untried prisoners are separated from the convicted


Most of the time, the accused are placed in specific units. This placement is not systematic.

The law provides for release on bail for untried prisoners


The duration of pre-trial custody, decided by the court, is not limited. It may be extended repeatedly. The average length of pre-trial detention is four weeks.

The law provides for an appeal against pre-trial custody before the judge or the Supreme Court.

Pre-trial custody is not always congruent with the presumption of innocence. This depends on the reason for detention.
Judicial authorities decide on the conditions relating to visits, mail, calls and access to the media.
Pre-trial persons may be kept in solitary confinement for investigative reasons. The Execution of Sentences Act provides that corrections officers must talk regularly to prisoners in solitary confinement.

Data collection about prisoners’ minority or indigenous background is allowed


Minority or indigenous backgrounds are criteria for specific cell or unit assignment


There is no specific detention policy for prisoners belonging to an ethnic or religious group.

The specific needs of prisoners are taken into account with regard to

  • language
  • religion
  • diet

The prosecution or imprisonment of a person on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity is banned


Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1972.

LGBTQI+ persons are separated from other prisoners

in some cases

There are a few cases. At present, it is estimated, that placement depends on the facility governor’s assessment regarding personal safety.

The protection of LGBTI prisoners is done on a case by case basis. The governor of the facility is responsible for evaluating the situation.
The Directorate of Correctional Services is working on developing procedures for the treatment of LGBTI prisoners.

Assignment of transgender prisoners to a specific facility depends on

their ID gender

Usually the assignment to a male or female unit or prison is based on the prisoner’s personal number. The prison’s governor may accept to evaluate specific cases, make the decision based on the person’s own identification and provide some adjustments.

Transgender prisoners are entitled to customised searches


Transgender persons can indicate their preference regarding the gender of the staff in charge of searching them. They are required to be treated respectfully.

Transgender prisoners benefit from specific health care


Transgender prisoners have access to the public health services, which is available to all in the healthcare system.

Conjugal visits are allowed for LGBTQI+ prisoners


Prison rules apply equally to all inmates.

The prison service keeps a record of elderly prisoners


The age of prison inmates is reported in national statistics.

Number and percentage of elderly prisoners

5.7 % (181)

Older persons are eligible, where appropriate, for special care.

The law does not provide for a specific early release programme for older persons.

The prison service keeps a record of prisoners with disabilities


Prison facilities are adapted to the needs of prisoners with disabilities

some facilities

Facilities built after 2010 are equipped with cells adapted for the use of wheelchairs.

Prison staff are trained to care for inmates with disabilities.

Death penalty is abolished

yes, since 1979

The death penalty was abolished in 1905 for ordinary crimes with the entry into force of the Penal Code of 22 May 1902. It still appears in the Code of Military Justice and was extended, for treason, after 1945.
The last execution for a common law crime took place in 1876. The last execution took place in 1948 for a crime falling within the scope of military justice.
The death penalty was fully abolished in 1979.