Year

Security, order, and discipline

Security functions are fulfilled by

the prison administration

Some prison facilities, units or cells implement high-security measures

yes

Prisoners with the “N” classification are considered particularly dangerous by the administration and may be placed in high-security blocks. In March 2017, 114 prisoners were classified “N”1.

Video surveillance can be used 24/7. Cells can be searched without the presence of the inmate. Strip searches are carried out each time the inmate leaves his cell or returns to it. Strip searches are carried out by individuals of the same sex. “N”-class prisoners wear prison uniforms.

The CPT pointed out the obstruction of windows in the high-security block of the Bydgoszcz and Lublin prisons.

Prisoners with the “N” classification are not permitted to participate in cultural, educational or sporting activities. They do not have access to books or the press. Work and religious worship are only possible when the activity is organised in the high-security zone.

Prisoners with the “N” classification do one hour of physical exercise per day. They have limited access to a common room with a ping-pong table, DVD players and stationary bikes:

  • four times per week in the Lublin prison
  • two times per week in the Warsaw-Mokotów prison
  • never in the Bydgoszcz prison

They are allowed one shower per week. Some “N” prisoners are handcuffed when outside of their cell.


  1. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, “Report on the Human Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty”, 2017, p.15. 

Prisoners are classified according to their supposed level of dangerousness

yes

Inmates are classified according to their perceived level of dangerousness. The evaluation of “high-risk” inmates takes into account their personality, their character and their prior behaviour. However, it seems that this classification is heavily dependent on the nature of the offence. This does not have an impact on the reintegration programme.

The number of “high-risk” inmates is decreasing. In 2015, there were 184, and in 2017, there were only 1141.


  1. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, “Report on the Human Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty”, 2017, p.15. 

Body search procedures are defined by the Regulation on methods to protect penitentiary units and the Penal Enforcement Code.
Prisoners are subjected to a brief search before leaving or coming back to their cell and before leaving or coming back to their place of work (Article 70).
Strip searches are allowed. Guards are required to wear badges identifying them and to keep these badges visible during these searches.
Prisoners with “N” classification are subjected to body searches before leaving their cell or re-entering it (Article 88b-1 of the Penal Enforcement Code).
The regulations of the Ministry of Justice, dated 17 October 2016, prohibit guards from performing body cavity searches.

The use of handcuffs and shackles is allowed for moving inmates within the prison (Article 15).

Security staff carry

non-lethal weapons

The use of non-lethal weapons is limited to the entrance of the facility, guard posts and security zones.

The Commissioner for Human Rights receives many complaints relating to cell searches, as food, clothes and personal objects are thrown on the floor.

Number of escapes

246

In 2017, 255 prisoners participated in the 246 escapes. All escapes occurred in the workplaces outside the prison facilities.

i
2017

Individual acts of protest are recorded

no

Disciplinary offences are investigated

yes

The decision to apply a disciplinary sanction must be subject to an adversarial debate

yes

In reality, prisoners are not often heard prior to judgment and are rarely given a copy of the decision1.


  1. European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, « Report to the Polish Government on the visit to Poland from 11 to 22 May 2017 », 2018, p. 40. 

Prisoners are allowed to be assisted by a lawyer

no

Inmates are not assisted by a lawyer when the prison governor hands down a disciplinary sanction.

Prisoners may appeal against disciplinary sanctions

yes

A prisoner can appeal a sanction in front of a prison court, but such a solution does not typically get results.

Disciplinary sanctions can be imposed as a collective punishment

no

Solitary confinement can be used as

a sanction

From January to May 2017, in the Warsaw-Bialoleka prison, solitary confinement was used as a disciplinary sanction 23 times, for up to 14 days. For the same period in the Warsaw-Sluzewiec remand centre, it was used 22 times, for up to 28 days1.


  1. European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, “Report to the Polish Government on the visit to Poland from 11 to 22 May 2017”, 2018, p.40. 

Solitary confinement is decided

the prison governor

The involvement of doctors in the decision to impose solitary confinement is a subject of debate.
“The CPT has repeatedly stressed that obliging prison doctors to certify that prisoners are fit to undergo punishment is scarcely likely to promote a positive doctor-patient relationship; moreover, it is unethical. Medical personnel should never participate in any part of the decision-making process resulting in any type of solitary confinement, except where the measure is applied for medical reasons. The Committee calls upon the Polish authorities to stop this practice immediately.”1


  1. European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, “Report to the Polish Government on the visit to Poland from 11 to 22 May 2017”, 2018, p. 41. 

The duration for placement in solitary confinement is limited

yes: 28 days

The legal period of 28 days is considered excessive by the CPT. Inmates in solitary confinement can ask for a re-examination of their situation.

Solitary confinement can be extended

no

Solitary confinement cells are fitted with a bed, a table and a chair. The windows are secured with additional bars. Toilets are rarely separated.

Individuals placed in solitary confinement have access to an exterior yard for one hour per day.

Individuals placed in solitary confinement are excluded from cultural and educational activities (Article 143-3 of the Penal Enforcement Code).

Individuals placed in solitary confinement are not allowed visits (Article 143-3 of the Penal Enforcement Code) and are not allowed to make phone calls.