Date of the report

Overview

Incarceration rate (per 100,000 inhabitants)

196

i
2019
/ Central Council of Penitentiary Services - Bureau of Information and Statistics

The authorities publish prison population figures

on a regular basis

(every two weeks)

The penitentiary administration has a computerised record keeping system

yes

Total number of prisoners

74,515

i
2019
/ Polish prison service via ICPR – World Prison Brief

Number of persons serving non-custodial sentences

160,496

Composed of 61,720 community work sentences and 98,776 fines.

i
2016
/ Central Council of Penitentiary Services - Bureau of Information and Statistics

Number of admissions

80,405

i
2017
/ SPACE I, 2018, p. 93.

Number of releases

78,427

i
2017
/ SPACE I, 2018, p. 93.

Average length of detention (in months)

5.6

i
2017
/ SPACE I, 2018, 108.

Evolution of the average length of detention

-

i
2017
/ SPACE I, 2018, 108.

Occupancy rate

92.8 %

i
2019
/ Polish prison service via ICPR – World Prison Brief

Evolution of the occupancy rate

-

i
2019
/ Polish prison service via ICPR – World Prison Brief

Overcrowding is an issue for certain penal institutions

yes

Pre-trial detention units are usually more overcrowded than prisons for sentenced inmates.

An international court has condemned the country for overcrowding in its prisons

yes, the ECtHR (February 2009)

Overcrowding has been an issue in Polish penitentiary units since 2000, when Lech Kaczyński became the Minister of Justice. His activity led to the tightening of criminal polices and, as a result, overpopulation in Polish prisons reached the level of 140%. In 2009, the ECtHR in cases of Orchowski v. Poland and Sikorski v. Poland pointed overcrowding as a systemic problem. Since then, Polish authorities have been making efforts to counteract this problem. After a few years of decrease, the rate of inmates in remand centres and prisons began to rise since 2015.

A supervisory body has issued a decision on prison overcrowding

yes

The Commissioner for Human Rights (ombudsman) and the CPT expressed their concern on the matter.
The CPT expresses its concern over prison overcrowding in Poland in every report it has published following a monitoring visit.

Name of authority in charge of the prison service

Ministry of Justice

The prison administration is regulated in the Prison Administration Act dated 9 April, 2010.

i
(Ministerstwo Sprawiedliwosci)

Budget of the prison service

722,000,000

Dollars — 2815 millions PLN

i
2017
/ Ministry of Justice

Percentage of the ministerial budget allocated to the prison service

58.7 %

i
2017
/ Ministry of Justice

The prison service outsources the management of the facilities to private companies, either partially or fully

no

The Prison Service is a centralised administration.

The applicable detention regimes are:

  • closed
  • semi-open
  • open

On average, a day in detention costs 103 PLN (23 euros). The yearly cost for a prisoner is 37,200 PLN.

There are different types of establishment for:

  • juvenile offenders
  • pre-trial detention centres
  • prisons for sentenced inmates

The establishments can be closed prisons, semi-open prisons or open prisons.

There are also 24 high security units.

Semi-open and open prisons offer better living conditions. Open prisons in Poland represent 32.48% of the total number of prisons.

Total number of penal institutions

174

i
2018

Total capacity of the prison system

80,146

i
08/2019
/ Polish prison service via ICPR – World Prison Brief

Change in the capacity of the prison system

a decrease of 6.9%

There are 130 penitentiary units (84 prisons and 46 pre-trail centres) and 44 external wards. The Program for the modernization of the Prison Service, launched in 2017, plans to build new facilities in Brzeg, Sanok and Dębie. Brzeg, Sanok and Dębie. The plan will close down small units and privilege bigger penitentiary establishments in order to reduce expenses.

The size of penitentiary establishments may vary significantly in some cases. For example, the biggest unit is the pre-trial detention centre Warszawa-Białołęka intended for 1,537 persons. The smallest unit is the pre-trial detention centre in Działdowo for 102 persons.

Prison facilities are located on the outskirts of the cities

some establishments

Most of the facilities are located within the borders of the cities. A few facilities, such as Czerwony Bor prison, in Nowagard, have been built in the outskirts.

Some prisons are located in non-adaptable buildings, which were previously used for different purposes. As an example, Koronowo Prison is located in a monastic building from the 14th century. The pre-trial detention centre in Białystok is situated in a 19th century military barrack and Nowy Wiśnicz Prison in monastic buildings from the 18th century.

Number of supervisory positions

15,661

i

Guard to inmate ratio

1 : 5.2

i
2018
/ SPACE I, 2018, p.78

Number of social and education workers

2,205

i
12/2017
/ Central Council of Penitentiary Services - Bureau of Information and Statistics

The prison staff is represented by (a) union(s)

yes

Prison staff do not have the right to strike.

The prison officers' training, called preparatory service, lasts two years. The conditions to access the supervisors’ training are to:

  • be over 18
  • not have a criminal record
  • be of Polish nationality
  • have graduated high school

The construction of a State Prison Academy was announced as part of the reform of the prison administration. This academic centre will propose training courses in secondary schools. The prison reform also plans to provide training for the prison officers who have already been recruited. They will receive courses in shooting, physical training and new defensive techniques.

The requirement for socio-educational staff is to have a master level education. The socio-educational staff consists of prison educators, educators for post-penitentiary assistance and an educator for cultural and educational activities. The most numerous group is pedagogues (1,545 persons). There are also lawyers (53 persons), psychologists (56 persons), sociologists (48 persons)1.


  1. Central Council of Penitentiary Services, “Bureau of Statistics”, 31 December 2017. 

Prison staff can be divided into:

  • those who work in direct contact with prisoners
  • officers with limited personal contact in time
  • those whose contact is sporadic or not at all

The first category includes employees of the guard department, responsible in the residential units for safety, order and basic services of prisoners. They are mostly officers with secondary education. This group also includes educators, psychologists, doctors and prison school teachers who are civilian staff.

The second category includes members of the management of the penitentiary institution, whose work is of control, visitation and intervention nature, as well as members of the penitentiary administration, performing control and visitation activities requiring limited contacts with prisoners.

The third category includes external security service, drivers, some employees of the financial department, investment and staffing units, and checkers from, as well as a significant part of the staff of the Central Board of the Prison Service.

It is clear from this division that the personnel of the first subcategory decide about the effectiveness of the penalty of imprisonment and rehabilitation work with prisoners.