Living conditions

The law establishes a minimum standard for living space per prisoner


Two prisoners can share one cell, on condition that each prisoner has a minimum space of 9.71 m2. This rule is not adhered to in practice. The size of individual cells varies according to the establishment. For example, in the Herrera de la Mancha prison (Ciudad Real), they are between six and seven m2, and in the Alcalá de Henares prison (Madrid) they are between nine and ten m2.

Prisoners are accommodated in single cells

in most facilities

Prisons that were built more recently are designed to hold more than two prisoners per cell.

Prisoners sleep on

  • a bed
  • a bunk bed

A cell is typically equipped with a concrete bed, a seat, a table and shelving. In the case of a shared cell, there are two of each item.

All the prisoners are provided with bedding


The administration provides bed sheets.

All cells have a window. The window sizes are not uniform and sometimes the windows are sealed. The prisons visited by the CPT (2017 report) provide adequate natural lighting, according to the standards1. An inmate of the Sevilla II prison reported that there was no way of securing the windows shut in the isolation cells, which let in the rain and cold.

  1. European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, “Report to the Spanish Government on the visit to Spain from 27 September to 10 October 2016”, 2017, pp. 17-30. 

The cells/dormitories are equipped with heating and/or air conditioning


The establishments are equipped with a heating system. Some inmates complain of a lack of heating in the cells and state that only certain communal areas are heated. At Cordoba prison, cells are equipped with air conditioning units. However, these are out of service. In general, establishments are not equipped with air conditioning systems. The administration has noted that very high temperatures can affect prisoners’ levels of aggression.

Prisoners can smoke

in their cell

Prisoners have access to water

in their cell

Each cell is equipped with a washbasin.

Showers are located in the cells/dormitories

in some facilities

The newest cells are equipped with showers.

There is no limit to the number of showers that inmates can take in a week. Inmates complain of a lack of hot water in winter.

Types of sanitary facilities


Sanitary facilities are clean, adequate and accessible

in most facilities

Each section and courtyard have toilets available. Cells in the most recently built establishments are equipped with a toilet. The CPT recommends partitioned areas for toilets when cells are occupied by more than one inmate.

The prison service provides personal hygiene products free of charge


Once a month, the prison administration provides a toiletry pack. It includes soap, toothpaste, condoms, lubricant, razors and shaving foam.

The prison service provides cleaning products free of charge


Beddings are refreshed

yes, once a month

Prisoners are permitted to wear their personal clothing. The prison administration provides unbranded clothing to those in need.

Once a week, prisoners can take their washing to the prison laundry.

The prison administration gives responsibility to the prisoners for the upkeep of communal areas. In the “respect modules”, prisoners organise the work themselves. Prisoners have a duty to keep their cell clean and well maintained. Cleaning products are provided for this purpose1. Rubbish is collected every day.

  1. General Secretariat of Penitentiary Institutions, “Prison step by step”, pp. 15-20 (in Spanish) 

The presence of vermin has been noted in most establishments. Hygiene was not found to be particularly lacking in the four establishments that the CPT visited in 2016. The cells were in a decent state, particularly those in the “respect modules”.

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


Unlimited access to water.

Number of meals per day


Breakfast is before 9am, lunch is between 1pm and 2pm and dinner is at 7.30pm.

Daily cost of meals per prisoner

4.16 dollars


/ “La cárcel de Cuenca, la más especial de España con las comidas” in “El Digital Castilla”, 25 December 2017.

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


Meals consist of a starter, main course and dessert.

The prison service provides food that respects special dietary needs


Article 226 of the prison regulations stipulates that special diets required for medical reasons or, as far as possible, personal or religious beliefs, must be available. 10% of prisoners in Spanish prisons follow a halal diet. 44% of prisoners in the Cuenca prison have access to a special diet for medical reasons.

Prisoners eat their meals in

  • their cell
  • a communal dining area

Majority of prisoners, who are classed as “second grade” (ordinary regime), eat communally in a canteen.

Prisoners can buy food products


Article 303 of the prison regulations allows the purchase of food products that do not require cooking. The number of products available to “first grade” prisoners is smaller than those available to prisoners classed as “second grade”. All metal packaging is banned. Fresh produce (fruit, vegetables) brought in from outside is prohibited.

Prisoners can have access to a refrigerator


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


Food products available to buy must be ready to eat and not require cooking.

Prisoners are allowed to receive food parcels


Visitors can buy food products from the prison shop for their loved one.