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The law states that prisoners suffering from addictions may be placed in detoxification centres.
Six states provide comprehensive treatments for addictions in some prisons1. All prisons are obliged to offer methadone substitution treatment. It is administered by prison staff under the supervision of medical staff and social workers.
Most patients receive a single detoxification course with substitution treatment. Only a minority of prisoners with addictions access treatment for more than six months.
Marlene Mortler, Federal Commissioner for Drug Control, laments the fact that prisoners do not always have access to methadone, an opiate substitution treatment. Half of the Bavarian prisons do not provide treatment for heroin addiction. The difficulty in accessing substitution treatment promotes the black market for drugs in prison and increases the risk of infections from used syringes.
In 2016, the European Court of Human Rights described the refusal to provide substitution treatment to a dependent prisoner, as “inhuman treatment”.


  1. Lana Osment, “The Complexity of Rehabilitation in Open and Closed Prison Setting”, Lund University, 2018, p. 14. 

  • The Die Linke party in Hamburg is calling for an alternative to urine tests for the purpose of drug testing. Their local representative suggested a possible alternative that would maintain the dignity of the people tested: blood samples from the fingertip. Die Linke filed a request with the Senate, who rejected it. The Senate argued that measures aiming to detect drug consumption must not involve physical contact, which would be the case with a blood sample. To support its decision, it also noted that urine tests provide much faster results and can detect substance use over a longer period.

    i
    21/10/2022
    / Taz
  • Drugs such as cannabis and methamphetamine were found repeatedly in prisons in Saxony. Three prison officers were suspected of distributing drugs to three inmates in Waldheim prison. One official allegedly hid illicit substances in food deliveries for a kitchen group. Those accused of trafficking were removed from their positions.

    i
    06/02/2022
    / Tag 24

-

  • The NPM (Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter) indicated that one prisoner was in solitary confinement in 2021 for over a year in the correctional facility of Bautzen (Saxony) due to his mental illness and a lack of understanding of this illness. He could not be transferred to the Leipzig prison hospital, as it lacked available spaces. The NPM noted similar cases in the correctional facility of Schwalmstadt (Hesse).

    i
    2022
    / Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter, p.88
  • The CPT observed that psychiatric care was inadequate in the Bayreuth and Gelsenkirchen prisons. Prison management had trouble transferring prisoners with acute mental disorders to a suitable therapeutic environment.

    i
    14/09/2022
    / Report on the periodic visit to Germany carried out by the CPT from 1 to 14 December 2020, p. 5

Number of medical staff (FTE)

15,284

i
  • The German NPM noted that, in the medical unit of the Bautzen (Saxony) correctional facility, one of the two posts for physicians was vacant and only two of the five possible posts for nurses were filled.

    i
    2022
    / National Agency for the Prevention of Torture (Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter), "Annual Report 2021" , p. 94 (in German)
  • In the correctional facilities in Baden-Württemberg, only around thirty of the 48.8 FTE positions for doctors are filled. In the Stuttgart-Stammheim correctional facility, 2.5 posts are expected to cover the medical care of 700 or so prisoners. The prison doctor is largely on his own to provide this care.

    i
    21/08/2022
    / Stuttgarter Zeitung

The prison service allows access to Internet

in some states

Internet use in prison is debated. Pilot projects are run to allow prisoners to access employment agencies and one probation assistance website. This is the case in the state of Thuringia. All other websites are blocked.
Thep risoners in safe custody (Sicherungsverwahrte) from Rosdorf prison (Göttingen) are rallying for provision of internet access. They have access to seven websites. These sites are censored. The Berlin Justice senator, Dirk Behrendt, announced, in December 2021, that prisoners in the capital would have access to the internet. Prisoners would be able to access the press and learning resources online. Social media would remain inaccessible. Prisoners would be charged for the internet access. Berlin is backing the project and signs a six-year contract with a communications company. The prison for women in Lichtenberg would be the first one to welcome the programme mid-2022. The rest of the prisons in Berlin would then follow in its footsteps in 2023.

  • On 1 December, the Lichtenberg (Berlin) correctional facility became the first German facility to have equipped all of its cells with multimedia systems. Prisoners can use them to make video calls from their cells, watch movies, play games or browse the web. They cannot use the Internet freely, and only a limited selection of sites, such as those of the Berlin Land, public libraries or the job centre, are available. Social media and services including Youtube, Netflix and Spotify are blocked. Email is not yet available. This new system makes contact with loved ones less expensive: the cost of a call dropped from 7 cents per minute to 3 cents. However, video calls cost 20 cents per minute. Senator Lena Kreck (Die Linke party) describes this digitisation as “an important step that should be taken in all prisons by October 2023”.

    i
    08/12/2022
    / Taz

Prisoners are allowed to make external phone calls

yes
  • In Bavarian correctional facilities, telephone calls are not authorised except “in case of emergency”, once a month and by request. “Replacement” telephone calls were introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, prisoners have been able to make calls twice a month for 20 minutes.

    i
    2022
    / National Agency for the Prevention of Torture (Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter), "Annual Report 2021" , p. 89 (in German)

Prisoners can only work after a settling-in period, fixed by the prison administration at one month.

The main jobs offered are:

  • carpentry
  • metalworking
  • basic assembly work
  • maintenance work (cleaning, catering, laundry)1

Industrial assembly work is the most common job type.


  1. Lana Osment, “The Complexity of Rehabilitation in Open and Closed Prison Setting”, Lund University, 2018, p.33. 

  • Every year leading up to Christmas, prisoners at the Torgau (Saxony) correctional facility sell products they have manufactured themselves. The sale takes place in stands located in front of the prison and on the Internet, on the Saxony prison service’s website.

    i
    25/11/2022
    / MDR Sachsen
  • At the Hünfeld (Hesse) correctional facility, prisoners can work in the following sectors: electricity, metalwork and manufacturing.

    i
    27/10/2022
    / Osthessen News

There are designated places for physical activities and sports

yes

Most prisons have dedicated space for physical activities or sports. Prisoners have access to a gym even when no sport activities are planned.

Burg prison in Saxony-Anhalt offers yoga, pilates and bodybuilding classes.1


  1. Lana Osment, “The Complexity of Rehabilitation in Open and Closed Prison Setting”, Lund University, 2018, p. 36. 

  • The Hünfeld (Hesse) correctional facility schedules 225 hours of sport per prisoner per week broken up into three sessions. The activities on offer are football, basketball, table tennis, badminton, aerobics, spinning and fitness training. Ping-pong tables, fitness blocks and small basketball courts are available in the yard.

    i
    27/10/2022
    / Osthessen News

The prison service offers activities to prisoners

yes

There are not enough activities to offer to all prisoners outside of work or education.

  • The German NPM noted the limited offering of sports and professional activities.

    i
    2022
    / National Agency for the Prevention of Torture (Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter), "Annual Report 2021" , p. 90 (in German)
  • Eight prisoners at the Plötzensee (Berlin) correctional facility participated in a play produced by aufBruch. This initiative gathers a group of professionals and prisoners to work on plays.

    i
    07/12/2022
    / Taz
  • The sociotherapeutic department of the Landsberg am Lech (Bavaria) correctional facility organises meetings with former prisoners. This initiative was launched to support prisoners’ reintegration by informing them of the challenges they may face after their release.

    i
    2022
    / National Agency for the Prevention of Torture (Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter), "Annual Report 2021" , p. 89 (in German)

The duration for placement in solitary confinement is limited

yes, four weeks

  • According to the Berlin Senate Department for Justice (Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Justiz), nine prisoners were placed in isolation for over 100 days in 2020 and 2021 in the correctional facility of Tegel (Berlin). The Minister for Justice in Lower Saxony reported that as of 29 August, five inmates had been in isolation for over a year in the Land.

    i
    27/10/2022
    / Tagesschau

Number of violent acts against prison staff

-

  • Four prisoners attacked a prison officer at the Straubing prison in Bavaria. The agent’s neck was reportedly injured with a key. The perpetrators of the attack were placed in isolation then transferred to different facilities in Bavaria.

    The Bavarian association of prison officers (Verband der Bayerischen Justizvollzugsbediensteten) has noted a growing number of attacks on prison officers despite recently reinforced security measures in Bavarian facilities (increased video surveillance, installation of emergency alarm systems). The Minister for Justice in Bavaria recorded 54 assaults on staff members in 2021. These assaults primarily involve intentional bodily injury, hostage taking and sequestration.

    i
    07/10/2022
    / BR24

Number of hostage takings

-

  • A prisoner attempted to escape from the correctional facility in Burg (Saxony-Anhalt). The man held two prison officers as hostages, one after the other. He took the first hostage when the cells were being closed for the night and managed to reach the exercise yard. He then changed hostages and demanded that other doors be opened. He was subdued within an hour.

    i
    31/12/2022
    / Taz

Mechanical means of restraint (Fixierung) are used as a last resort and under strict medical supervision.

A delegate of the CPT visited Germany in 2015. She reported that the use of mechanical restraint has been extremely rare over the past year in most of the facilities visited. 1


  1. European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), “Report to the German Government on the visit to Germany from 25 November 2015 to 7 December 2015”, 1 June 2017, p. 5. 

  • No means of restraint are used in the correctional facilities of Bautzen and Schwäbisch Hall.

    i
    2022
    / National Agency for the Prevention of Torture (Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter), "Annual Report 2021" , p. 89 (in German)
  • The German NPM reports that people placed in the security cells at the Schwäbisch Hall (Baden-Württemberg) facility were sometimes handcuffed and shackled with steel handcuffs. The security cells at the Tegel (Berlin) facility are fitted with a pair of leather handcuffs and a pair of metal handcuffs. According to management, the quick-release metal handcuffs are used first as “a means of physical restraint to secure prisoners quickly in tense situations”. Once prisoners are secured, the metal shackles can be replaced by padded leather ones.

    i
    2022
    / National Agency for the Prevention of Torture (Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter), "Annual Report 2021" , p. 91 (in German)

Full-body search methods and procedures are controlled and can be regular and without any specific suspicions. Full-body searches must be carried out respectfully and in two stages; only half of the body is stripped in each phase.

  • The NPM reports that in the facilities in Straubing, Landsberg am Lech and Bautzen, new arrivals are subjected to full body searches.

    i
    2022
    / National Agency for the Prevention of Torture (Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter), "Annual Report 2021" , p. 94 (in German)
  • In the Bautzen correctional facility in Saxony, prisoners undress in two steps so only one half of their body is exposed at a time.

    i
    2022
    / National Agency for the Prevention of Torture (Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter), "Annual Report 2021" , p. 89 (in German)

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

yes

Celle prison, in Lower Saxony, has a high-security (Sicherheitsstation) unit which has a capacity of ten people. Stammheim prison, in Stuttgart, also has a high-security unit which was built in the 1970s. In the first instance it is reserved for prisoners convicted of terrorism, notably members of the Red Army Faction (Rote Armee Fraktion, RAF).

CCTV:

CCTV is only authorised in certain cases when the authorities assess that is necessary for ensuring safety. The justification for CCTV must be stated in official documents and the individual concerned must have been warned. The camera being visible is not enough; the individual must be aware if the camera is recording.

  • The special security cell of the correctional facility in Schwäbisch Hall (Baden-Württemberg) is not under video surveillance, in order to ensure the privacy of prisoners.

    i
    2022
    / National Agency for the Prevention of Torture (Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter), "Annual Report 2021" , p. 89 (in German)

Prisoners are allowed to cook in their cells or in a shared space

in most facilities

  • The Länder of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Hamburg increased subsidies for prisoners who cook for themselves by 5 to 25% to account for rising prices.

    i
    22/11/2022
    / Taz

Sanitary facilities are clean, adequate and accessible

-

  • The facilities of Straubing, Landsberg am Lech and Bautzen do not blur the video surveillance of the lavatories.

    i
    2022
    / National Agency for the Prevention of Torture (Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter), "Annual Report 2021" , p. 95 (in German)

Showers are located in the cells/dormitories

in some facilities

In most facilities, the showers are located outside the cells. Certain facilities have recently installed showers inside the cells; for example, at the Heidering prison in Brandenburg.

  • The German NPM reports that the communal showers in the Schwäbisch Hall correctional facility do not have partitions to ensure the prisoners’ privacy.

    i
    2022
    / National Agency for the Prevention of Torture (Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter), "Annual Report 2021" , p. 95 (in German)

Prisoners sleep on

a bed

  • In the correctional facilities of Schwäbisch Hall (Baden-Württemberg), Bautzen (Saxony) and Landsberg am Lech (Bavaria), only a mattress on the floor is provided in the special security cells.

    [^note]. No other seating is available.

    i
    2022
    / National Agency for the Prevention of Torture (Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter), "Annual Report 2021" , p. 90 (in German)

The law establishes a minimum standard for living space per prisoner

no

The floor space allocated to each prisoner is generally 8m2. This standard is not shared by all federal states.

A 2006 reform transferred the responsibility of the prison facility management to the federal states. Specific regulations were defined by the federal states with respect to facilities set up after this date.

  • According to the German NPM, the minimum space necessary to maintain human dignity is not respected in the facilities of Landsberg am Lech (Bavaria) and Schwäbisch Hall (Baden-Württemberg). In Landsberg am Lech, cells with four beds have a surface of 16.98 m² and double cells, 9.92 m2. In Schwäbisch Hall, double cells have a surface of 9.13 m².

    i
    2022
    / National Agency for the Prevention of Torture (Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter), "Annual Report 2021" , p. 91 " (in German)

Foreign prisoners can be assisted by an interpreter

during the sentencing process

There is no legislation that guarantees an interpreter after the beginning of the prison sentence. This includes at medical visits and court hearings. A fellow inmate can act as an interpreter during medical visits.

Complaints must be made in German. There is a language barrier for certain inmates.

  • Bavaria has implemented access to video interpretation in numerous correctional facilities. Sworn interpreters are available after a short wait for all requested languages. This will resolve any comprehension difficulties while maintaining confidentiality.

    i
    01/01/2022
    / Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter, p.89

The prison regulations are translated for foreign prisoners

in certain cases

  • The internal rules of the Bautzen correctional facility are available in German, Czech, Russian and Arabic.

    i
    2022
    / Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter, p.95

Foreign prisoners

26.2 % (16,267)
i
31/03/2018
  • According to Ralph Knispel, the lead prosecutor for the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Berlin, foreign nationals represented 50% of the prison population in Berlin in 2019. Citizens of 97 countries are incarcerated in Berlin’s prisons.

    i
    27/10/2022
    / Tagesschau

The law forbids solitary confinement for minors

no

Minors can only be placed in isolation for a maximum duration of two weeks (four weeks for adults).1


  1. European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) “Report to the German Government on the visit to Germany from 25 November 2015 to 7 December 2015”, 1 June 2017, p. 14. 

  • A 16-year-old juvenile prisoner in pre-trial detention remained isolated in a cell for 23 hours per day for nine days in the Vechta facility in Lower Saxony. This Land has only one juvenile pre-trial detention facility, in Hamelin, and court hearings are held in a distant city. The minors are brought via public transport to a pre-trial detention facility for adults several days before their hearings. The Minister for Justice in Lower Saxony explains that isolation is unavoidable if no other minors are in the facility at the same time.

    i
    14/11/2022
    / Taz

Allegations of violence have been reported.

  • A prison guard appeared before the Frankfurt local court (Amtsgericht) for having struck a prisoner with his fists. The events allegedly occurred in March while returning from a court hearing.

    i
    21/10/2022
    / t-online
  • No allegations of ill-treatment by prison staff of prisoners were noted in the 18 facilities visited by the CPT in December 2020.

    i
    14/09/2022
    / Report on the periodic visit to Germany carried out by the CPT from 1 to 14 December 2020, p. 4

Security staff carry

non-lethal weapons

Security staff are not armed but they can obtain handcuffs and pepper spray from prison authorities. Firearms are only used if other methods fail and they are authorised in the event of a mutiny or an escape attempt.

  • The prison guards at the Bautzen facility wear badges with their names. This measure enables prisoners to address the guards by name and could have a positive impact on prisoner-guard relations.

    i
    2022
    / Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter, p.89

Number of prison guards (FTE)

-

  • The German NPM observed that some of the facilities it visited were understaffed. In Schwäbisch Hall (Baden-Württemberg), each corridor holds 55 prisoners but is managed and monitored by only one guard. In Bautzen (Saxony), some guards are responsible for several units at once. At night, it is not always possible to have sufficient staff present to ensure a quick response to emergency calls.

    i
    2022
    / Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter, p94
  • The German NPM noted a lack of personnel in block II of the Tegel correctional facility (Berlin).

    i
    2022
    / Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter, p89

Variation in the capacity of the prison facilities

decrease by 1.7%

As of 30th November 2018, the official capacity of the prison system was 74,386 places1.

  • A new correctional facility is under construction in Passau (Bavaria). It is expected to be completed in 2027 and have a capacity of 450. It is also designed to hold up to 100 people awaiting deportation. The cost of construction is estimated at over 200 million euros.

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    17/10/2022
    / BR24
  • A new building is under construction at the Mannheim correctional facility (JVA). It will create 15 additional spaces, bringing the total to 30. The cost of construction is 3.5 million euros.

    i
    07/11/2022
    / Baden Wuerttemberg Presse

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

yes

Four  facilities are operated by Public-Private Partnerships (PPP).

The first PPP facility, the Hünfeld prison, opened in Hesse in 2006. Forty percent of the staff are contracted with a private company called Steep. The Offenburg (Baden-Württemberg) and Burg bei Magdeburg  (Saxony-Anhalt) prisons operate in PPP format.

Some private companies, such as Serco, provide “psychological, medical and educational support to prisoners besides offering video surveillance, catering, work and other services…”1


  1. The Sentencing Project, “International Growth Trends in Prison Privatization”, August 2013. 

  • The Hünfeld correctional facility in Hesse is partially privatised. The Minister for Justice of the Land of Hesse stated that around 40% of the services, including workshops, medical care, catering and cleaning, are provided by the private company steep GmbH. The overall management of the facility and decisions relating to security remain under the authority of the state.

    i
    27/10/2022
    / Osthessen News

Budget of the prison service

3430987308

dollars - € 3 067 133 287

i
2015
  • The Minister for Justice of the Land of Hesse doubled the 2023-2024 budget for the Land’s correctional facilities. He plans to add 43 posts.

    i
    27/10/2022
    / Osthessen News

Salaries are

significantly below the national minimum wage

The hourly rate in prison varies from €1 to €3. The minimum monthly salary is €1,200 on the job market. It is €300 in prison.

  • Of the 3,500 prisoners in the correctional facilities in Saxony who practice professional activities, around 2,500 receive a maximum salary of 2.15 euros per hour. Deputy Juliane Nagel (Die Linke party) has called for an increase in the compensation of working prisoners.

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    10/08/2022
    / Taz

A medical examination is performed upon admission

yes

The timing of the examination and procedures vary according to the prison or state. Chest X-rays (diagnosis of tuberculosis) and blood tests are usually done to detect transmittable diseases (hepatitis A, B and C and HIV).

  • Following its visit to 18 correctional facilities in December 2020, the CPT confirmed that newly-arrived prisoners received medical examinations shortly after arriving.

    i
    14/09/2022
    / Report on the periodic visit to Germany carried out by the CPT from 1 to 14 December 2020, p. 4
  • A female inmate was kept in her cell 23 hours a day during her quarantine when she entered a juvenile detention centre in Schleswig. She was not given access to the showers, despite a handwritten request which went unanswered. She was not allowed to see her lawyer. She filed a complaint for these reasons and won the case.

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    11/05/2022
    / Taz

Minors are assessed within a specific court system in line with two legislative texts: book eight of the social code for the welfare of children and young persons (Sozialgesetzbuch (SGB), achtes Buch (VIII) - Kinder- und Jugendhilfe) and the Youth Court Act (Jugendgerichtsgesetz, JGG). Young adults aged between 18 and 21 can be assessed in a juvenile court (68% of cases) or in an adult court (32% of cases). 1

Jugendgerichtsgesetz offers more protection as the maximum prison sentence is set at ten years rather than 15.2


  1. Frieder Dünkel, “Juvenile Justice, Sentencing and Youth Imprisonment in Germany”, University of Greifswald, 2018. 

  2. Civil Society in the Penal System (CISST) / Turkey’s Centre for Prison Studies, Addressing Prisoners with Special Needs: Life Imprisonment, 2017, p. 26. 

  • On 14 September 2022, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) published the report of its seventh periodic visit to Germany, which took place in December 2020. CPT members visited 18 facilities in ten German states, or Länder. The report indicates that minors may still be questioned without the presence of a lawyer or a trusted person.

    i
    14/09/2022
    / Report on the periodic visit to Germany carried out by the CPT from 1 to 14 December 2020, p. 3

Number of complaints filed by prisoners against the prison service

-

  • A prisoner at the Bochum correctional facility protested the procedure for drug testing. The procedure requires surveillance to avoid manipulation of the samples by prisoners, and a prison officer must therefore have a clear view of the prisoner’s penis as he urinates. The Constitutional Court deemed the prisoner’s complaint admissible, as there are other options for drug testing. Since 2017, the North Rhine-Westphalia law on sentence execution has stated that prisoners may choose to have blood drawn from their fingertip rather than provide a urine sample.

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    10/08/2022
    / Taz

Assignment of transgender prisoners to a specific facility depends on

their ID gender

Transgender individuals can face difficulties when trying to access the means to keep their own gender identity.

  • Three prisoners were transferred to the Berlin women’s prison following an amendment to the law on sentence execution. This amendment enables transgender, intersex and non-binary prisoners to individually request whether they are assigned to a facility for men or for women.

    i
    01/09/2022
    / Tagesspiegel

Number of escapes

6

i
2017
/ Council of Europe, "Space I – Survey 2018", p.102.

In 2015, there were seven escapes 1.

  • On 17 September 2022, a man escaped from the open prison in Spandau. He had been transferred to the open-regime facility a few days before, on 13 September, to prepare for his release, scheduled for 26 October. He voluntary returned to the prison ten days after his escape and was placed in a closed facility. He is serving the rest of his sentence with no consequences: in Germany, escaping from prison is not punishable under criminal law.

    i
    28/09/2022
    / Tagesspiegel
  • An inmate of the Essen correctional facility escaped during his hospitalisation for a broken jaw. The police searched for the escaped inmate. He was believed to have escaped while using the toilet.

    i
    14/01/2022
    / T-online
  • An inmate sentenced to a 150-day alternative sentence escaped from the open prison at the Brandenburg/Havel correctional centre. The federal police arrested him three days later and placed him in a prison in Berlin.

    i
    07/01/2022
    / Beliner Morgenpost

Number of recorded violent acts between prisoners

-

  • In the prisons of Berlin, 218 assaults between prisoners were recorded in July 2022, compared with 319 in July 2021. Seventy-three fights and assaults were recorded within the juvenile correctional facility of Berlin. The Heidering prison, south of the capital, noted 63 acts of violence. Tegel correctional facility tallied 44 violent acts; the Moabit remand centre, 21. Three assaults were documented in the Berlin women’s prison.

    i
    01/09/2022
    / Welt
  • A fight broke out between two groups of inmates of different nationalities in the prison of Heidering, south of Berlin during their daily walk. One of the two groups threatened and blocked the other from using the kitchen, which triggered the altercation. Several people were injured, including guards. An additional walk schedule was set up to reduce the group by half. At least 136 such conflicts were recorded in 2021 in this prison, a high figure compared to other institutions in the German capital.

    i
    21/05/2022
    / Stern

Every prison facility has a health care unit

yes
  • A new hospital was built in the correctional facility (JVA) of Leipzig (Saxony), replacing the former prison hospital built in 1913. The new facility can hold up to 80 prisoners (men and women). It has single and double rooms. In the former hospital, up to six patients could be assigned to the same room. The hospital specialises in psychiatry, but it also treats physical illnesses. An agreement enables prisoners from Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia to be hospitalised in Leipzig.

    i
    15/07/2022
    / Welt

Prison density

82 %

i
  • Hamburg’s six correctional facilities have a collective capacity of 2,099, with 1,893 of these spots in use, for an occupancy rate of around 90%. On 30 June 2022, there were 620 prisoners in 614 spots in the units for men at the Billwerder correctional facility (JVA).

    i
    20/07/2022
    / Hamburger Abendblatt

Sentence adjustments can be granted during the incarceration

yes

The release on parole is possible after half of the sentence is served for:

  • sentences of less than two years
  • first time conviction

The reduction in sentence is seldom granted. Release on parole is more often granted after two-thirds of the sentence is served.1


  1. Frieder Dünkel, “The prison system in Germany” in The prison systems in the world, 2017, p. 20. 

  • The Federal Justice administration stated that only about one prisoner in ten (11.6%) in Berlin is released after two thirds of their sentence.

    i
    17/07/2022
    / Taz

The publication is subject to censorship. The Lichtblick, published at Tegel prison, in Berlin, is the only one not subject to censorship. The authorities have tried, unsuccessfully, to reduce its freedom.

  • A prisoner at the Werl prison filed an appeal to the Constitutional Court and received a favourable ruling. He had been forbidden by prison authorities to receive a visit from a journalist for an interview. This decision had been confirmed in the lower court. The correctional facility justified its refusal with the North Rhine-Westphalia law on sentence execution. This law states that a visit can be forbidden “if there is a risk that contact with persons who are not relatives of the prisoners […] could have a negative impact on the prisoners or hinder their integration”. In contrast, the constitutional judges held the view that fundamental law gives everyone the right to express their opinion via speech, writing and images.

    i
    07/07/2022
    / Westfalen-Blat

There are limitations to the duration of pre-trial detention and the majority of cases are assessed within six months. The maximum duration of pre-trial detention is one year. It can be longer than six months but “only if there are particular issues, a case with unusual severity or another major reason which make the assessment impossible” (section 121 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). At the end of the statutory time limit, untried prisoners must be released unless the court can reasonably justify a continuation of the pre-trial detention period.

Every year, around five people are released because it has reached the end of the maximum pre-trial detention period.

  • According to a press release from the German Association of Judges (Deutscher Richterbund), 66 prisoners across the country were released from remand detention in 2021 due to the excessive duration of legal proceedings before sentencing. The law states that the justice system must make every effort to begin proceedings as quickly as possible.

    i
    07/04/2022
    / Süddeutsche Zeitung

All people with an infectious disease (HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis) receive treatment. Late treatment is common.

  • Few prisoners with Hepatitis C had access to treatment. An interstate working group was tasked with developing a project to treat the disease in prisons in cooperation with the Minister of Justice of Hesse. The aim of the project was to successfully demonstrate that it was possible to treat more prisoners by setting standards in the areas of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease. The first model of the project was presented on 19 May 2022.

    i
    19/05/2022
    / Gouvernement du Land de Rhénanie-du-Nord-Westphalie

Preventative measures for epidemic and contagious diseases are implemented.

  • Inmates of a Hamburg prison testified about the conditions of detention during their quarantine after they contracted COVID-19. Only one lunch was received by the inmates in two days, the other meals did not reach them. No care was provided, and access to hygiene and health measures were limited: no toilet paper, no medication, no shower. Outings were not permitted, windows could not be opened, and guards did not respond to calls from inmates. This type of complaint was common in this prison, but denied by the authorities.

    i
    26/04/2022
    / Taz

The phones are located

in the corridors

In Heidering Prison (Brandenburg), the phones are located in the cells.

  • Prisoners in Hamburg were given access to telephones in their cells. This measure had already been in place in other prisons in the country. Inmates would only have access to about 30 numbers that would have been checked and approved by the administration of the prison they are in to limit fraudulent use. This measure relieved both the inmates, who could have more contact with their loved ones, and the prison administrations, which could have more control over outside contacts and see the tensions associated with access to free phones reduced.

    i
    02/04/2022
    / Taz

-

  • Mental health concerns increased in Hamburg’s prisons as of the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic. This increase was accompanied by an increase in the daily doses of medication to treat mental health concerns. Some dosages doubled and even tripled. Member of Parliament Carola Ensslen showed concern about the role of medication in the treatment of mental health concerns and feared that it would replace therapy.

    i
    01/04/2022
    / Taz

Prisoners are allowed to receive visits from their children or minor relatives

yes, and special arrangements are provided

Communal spaces are organised for visits from members of the same family. Rooms for more privacy can also be reserved.

  • Prisons in North Rhine-Westphalia set up activities for prisoners to keep in touch with their children. A list of these activities provided by the Ministry of Justice to a Green parliamentary group included father-child days, trainings, story recordings on CD, egg hunts etc.. After the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, these activities had become rarer and the maintenance of links more difficult. Skype visits were also still available.

    i
    25/01/2022
    / Süddeutsche Zeitung

The prison service keeps record of incidents

yes
  • An inmate at Sieburg prison set fire to his mattress and clothes in front of a prison officer. The inmate was admitted to hospital and then transferred back to the prison, where he was kept under constant observation in a specially secured cell after his return. No other inmates were injured.

    i
    23/02/2022
    / General-Anzeiger
  • A large-scale fire broke out in a solitary confinement cell at Weiterstadt prison. Only the inmate in the affected cell was injured and taken to hospital. Firefighters managed to extinguish the fire using heavy-duty respiratory protection. The cause of the incident was not confirmed.

    i
    21/01/2022
    / Tag 24

All cells have a window. The natural light is generally sufficient. In some facilities, the windows are small and at a height.

  • The Berlin Advisory Council demanded the closure of Section II of Tegel Prison because the conditions there had long been undignified: dark cells, dilapidated sanitary facilities, unbearable noise, the interior was only quite penetrable. It was the oldest section of the prison. The poor conditions led to drug trafficking and violence among the inmates. Olaf Heischel, a member of the advisory council, expressed that he would like Section II to close and suitable upgrades or a new structure to be built.

    i
    02/03/2022
    / Taz

Incarceration rate (per 100,000 inhabitants)

70

i
  • Bavarian prisons had a 20% vacancy rate. Programs had been in place in Bavaria for more than 30 years to reduce the use of incarceration. For example, community service and the termination of social benefits had been promoted as alternatives to incarceration.

    i
    12/01/2022
    / Süddeutsche Zeitung