Contributor(s)Esther Pascual - ICAM | Monica Aranda - OSPDH


The year 2015 was marked by the hunger strike started by Jose Antunez Becerra, a prisoner held at Brians, in Barcelona. He has been incarcerated for more than 40 years, which makes him one of the oldest prisoners in Spain. He rebelled against what he considered to be a disguised life sentence. The state of his health deteriorated considerably over the course of his 65-day hunger strike and human rights organisations were not authorised to visit him.

There was a continued decline in the prison population in 2015, which decreased by 19% in five years. This phenomenon is a result of the Penal Code reform in 2010 which reduces the length of sentences for certain crimes and encourages the implementation of alternative sentences for road security-related crimes.

The Spanish penal system is divided into two administrations:

  • For all autonomous communities in Spain, except Catalonia, the General Secretariat of Penitentiary Institutions under the supervision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
  • For Catalonia: the General Directorate of Penal Services, under the supervision of the Generalitat’s Department of Justice

A joint committee aids in coordinating the two administrations’ activities.

Country population


Type of government

Constitutional monarchy

Human Development Index