Capital city — Oslo
Incarceration rate (per 100,000 inhabit…i03/2019/ KDI
Type of government
Human Development Index
Homicide rate (per 100,000 inhabitants)
Name of authority in charge of the pris…i(JD, Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet)
Total number of prisonersi03/2019/ Directorate for Correctional Services (KDI)
Average length of imprisonment (in mont…i2018/ KDI
Prison densityi03/2019/ KDI
Total number of prison facilities
An NPM has been established
Number and percentage of female prisone…i2018/ KDI
Incarcerated minorsi2018/ KDI
Untried prisonersi2018/ KDI
Death penalty is abolished
All prisoners are entitled to spend at least one hour a day in the open air
Norwegian law provides that “Inmates shall, as far as possible, spend time outdoors daily” (Penal Enforcement Act, section 22).
The prison service offers activities to prisoners
The Correctional Service requires inmates to engage in daytime activities such as work, training, programmes and other activities.
Remand prisoners are not required to take part in these activities (Enforcement of Sentences Act, section 49).
There are designated places for physical activities and sports
The most frequently practiced sports are football, table tennis, volleyball, cycling and long-distance running (in groups).
There are designated places for cultural activities
The most commonly offered cultural activities are music lessons, concerts, film screenings and theatre.
Inmates are consulted on the proposed activities. They may, upon admission, indicate the activities that interest them. They can propose new ones.
A list of proposed activities is circulated within the facility. Each inmate registers for their preferred activities.
Prison facilities have a library
Large facilities have libraries. Inmates in small facilities have access to the local public library.
Access to work, education and health is part of the “import model”. It combines punishment and social care.1
The Norwegian Correctional Service measures the activity level of inmates by recording participation in education, work and programmes across all categories. 82 per cent of all prisoners were enrolled in activities in 2018. However, the variety and amount of activities and work remain insufficient.
Thomas Ugelvik states that “prison is seen as an integral part of the Norwegian welfare state” (Ugelvik, 2016). Refer to the Introduction. ↩
Work is compulsory
Prisoners have a “duty of care”. They are required to attend training, participate in an activity, program or work.
If a prisoner refuses to do so, they may be subject to a stricter detention policy or lose eligibility to receive financial support. However, there is a work shortage.
All prisoners are allowed to work
Inmates may not be made to work as a punishment for misconduct.
Labour as a punitive measure is prohibited
Prisoners express their desire to work to administration. The administration must offer a job to everyone. This offer represents a particular challenge in old facilities, which lack adequate space.
The prison administration organizes the division of labour. Inmates can request a transfer to a facility offering more interesting work.
Inmates do not, in principle, enter into an employment contract. They do, in an open institution, when they work outside.
Maximum daily/weekly working hours are set, including at least one day of rest
The working day usually starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 3:00 p.m. It is split in two by a lunch break and can last up to eight hours. Prisoners have two days off per week.
Prisoners are paid for their work
significantly below the national minimum wage
The average daily wage is NOK 65 (EUR 7). This amount is lower than the hourly rate outside.
Prisoners are paid on a piecework basis
Their income is subject to social contributions
Health and safety standards applicable outside are respected in prison
Prisoners have the right to join trade unions
Education and vocational training
Authority(ies) in charge of education and vocational training
The County Municipality (Fylkeskommune)
The Municipality is responsible, both in prison and outside, for primary and secondary education and vocational training (Education Act, section 13-2a).
Education is provided
in all facilities
Prisons offer a wide range of courses and training at varying levels. These are consistent with the Norwegian schooling system.
Education is available for all prisoners
The prison service implements measures to fight illiteracy
Prisoners are allowed to pass diplomas and entry examinations
Vocational training is provided
Vocational training is available for all prisoners
Distance courses are available
Prisoners have access to computers
in some facilities
The classrooms of some facilities are equipped with computers. Internet access is limited.
Most facilities prohibit the use of computers in cells. Some open institutions and halfway houses allow inmates to own a computer and telephone with Internet access. Use may be monitored at any time.
Inmates with the required skills may be allowed to provide training to others. The determining criteria include the following: relationships between them, profile, possible gang membership, etc. This is more common in open facilities.
Access to information
Prisoners are allowed to keep themselves informed regularly on public affairs
Restrictions may apply.
Prisoners have access to a television
Prisoners sometimes have a television in their cell. Communal spaces are generally equipped with a television set.
Prisoners have access to a radio
Most prisoners have a radio in their cell.
Prisoners have access to the press
Prisoners have access to newspapers in the library or a room reserved for that purpose.
The prison service allows access to Internet
in some facilities
Prisoners can use the Internet for educational reasons (to research for a class or find information) or to communicate with their relatives on Skype1.
See the Contact with the outside section. ↩
The prison authorities censor only pornographic content.
The religions most represented in prison are Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam.
Prisoners are free to practice their religion and follow their beliefs
Group prayer is not permitted for Muslim inmates. They may pray individually in their cells. This measure was taken after some Muslim prisoners complained of pressure from others to join in group prayers.
Dedicated places of worship are available
in all facilities
Some facilities have a specially-designed room. If this is not possible, a space is set aside for worship.
There are chaplains in the prisons
These worship leaders are mainly priests of the Church of Norway and imams.
The prison service remunerates the chaplains
Their remuneration is paid by their community.
The prison administration has established a mentoring programme to prevent radicalisation. Prisoners at risk of radicalisation are individually assigned a correctional officer.
Individuals or organisations from the outside are allowed to participate in prison activities
Authorisations for external actors to take part in prison activities are provided by
the management of the facility
The main agencies authorized to enter prisons are:
- the Norwegian Red Cross
- associations of former convicts or former drug addicts, e.g. Wayback (social reintegration)
- legal aid associations, such as Jurk (legal advice for women) and the Jussbuss
- associations supporting the families of prisoners, such as For Fangers Paørende (FFP)
Football teams from the outside are also invited to participate in sports activities.
External actors do not receive State remuneration.
Prisoners are allowed to make use of financial resources
Financial resources are accessible
- in cash
- on a registered an account
The process of accessing financial resources depends on the facility. Some of them, usually open facilities, allow limited access to cash for external purchases.
Destitute prisoners receive financial or in-kind support
Inmates unable to engage in an activity or work (work is paid) receive financial assistance from the administration.
Expression of prisoners
Prisoners are allowed to discuss matters relating to their conditions of imprisonment
depends on the detention policy
Prisoners have the right of association
depends on the detention policy
Prisoners have the right to vote
The vote is organised by the competent external authorities. They are responsible for all the necessary arrangements to guarantee the exercise of voting rights.
Inmates are allowed to participate in the hosting of a radio programme or the editing of a publication. One radio programme, Røver Radio (“thief radio”) is hosted by prisoners in Oslo Prison. It broadcasts nationally every Sunday to the general public.