Living conditions

Prisoners are accommodated in single cells

in most establishments

Around 30% of the prison population is double bunked (meaning that two prisoners share a single sized cell). The Department of Corrections made public its intention to increase the number of double-bunking cells to deal with the rapidly growing prison population. This policy has been criticised by human rights organizations such as The Salvation Army and No Pride in Prison. The latter fear that double-bunking cells might expose transgender prisoners to sexual assault.

Prisoners sleep on

  • a bed
  • a bunk bed

Prison cells have a bed with a mattress and linen, a toilet and a basin, a personal desk and some shelves.

All the prisoners are provided with bedding


Prisoners can smoke


The Corrections Department enacted a comprehensive smoking ban inside all prisons in July 2011.

Prisoners have access to water

in their cell/dormitory

Showers are located in the cells/dormitories


The Prisons Operation Manual specifies shower facilities are available on a daily basis. There must be access to hot water.

Types of sanitary facilities

regular toilets

The Prisons Operation Manual specifies that each cell must have access to a working toilet.

The prison service provides personal hygiene products free of charge


Upon arrival, each prisoner receives a basic kit that includes: toothpaste, a toothbrush, soap, a 60ml shampoo, a comb, a ballpoint pen, paper and envelopes and, for females, sanitary supplies.

The prison service provides cleaning products free of charge


Beddings are refreshed

yes, once a week

Upon arrival, the prison administration provides each prisoner with a pair of trousers and a pair of shorts, one tracksuit, one shirt, underwear and socks. Once sentenced, prisoners can bring in their own items. Women can bring five bras of their own. The prison administration does not guarantee that they will provide the right bra size.

Unit staff collect bedding and clothing to be laundered on selected days.

Prisoners are responsible for cleaning their own cells. Unit staff also ensure that waste is disposed of in an appropriate and timely manner in containers supplied, and that waste containers are emptied and cleaned on a regular basis by the prisoner in charge of waste disposal.

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


The Prisons Operation Manual specifies that each cell must have access to a hand-washing sink with running water.

Number of meals per day


The Prison Operations Manual specifies that each prisoner must be provided with at least three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Breakfast should not be served more than 14 hours after the evening meal.

According to the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture (SPT), this rule is not respected in all prisons. In some prisons, dinner is served at 15.30 and breakfast at 8.30, which leaves prisoners without food for 17 hours.

Daily cost of meals per prisoner

$ 5.30

Food services are managed by

the prison administration

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


The Prison Operations Manual says that prison menus are developed in consultation with a qualified dietician to ensure they fit both legislation and the Ministry of Health’s food and nutrition guidelines.

However, the SPT showed concern over the low nutritional value of meals provided. Detainees complain about the “list of items that could be purchased, in particular regarding prices, limited choice and unhealthy items,which failed to compensate for the paucity and monotony of the food provided1

Prisoners can complain about the quality of the food to the Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections.

  1. UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture, CAT/OP/NZL/1, May 2014, p. 18. 

The prison service provides food that respects special dietary needs


It is possible to request a vegetarian or vegan menu. Medical diets are provided for if requested by a medical officer.

Prisoners can buy food products


Inmates can subsidise their meals by purchasing groceries in the weekly shopping system.

After a prison riot at Spring Hill Prison in 2012, prisoners were only allowed to buy two pieces of fruit per day and seven per week.

Prisoners are allowed to receive food parcels

in some cases

Friends and family are not allowed to bring food items unless they have a written permission of the prison manager.