Admission and evaluation
All inmates are admitted to prison with a valid commitment order
Prisoners can inform their families about their imprisonment
There is a reception area for arriving prisoners
in some facilities
Most of the small facilities do not have an arrivals area.
In large, high-security facilities, inmates are placed in an arrivals area or separated from the general population, while awaiting cell assignment.
A copy of the prison regulations is made available to the prisoners
A copy of the “Prisoner’s Guide” (Fangehåndboka) is available to all prisoners. The guide is published by a group of law students who provide legal aid.
Cell availability is the main criterion for assignment.
Admission staff are trained to recognize prisoners at risk of self-harm or harm to others. This is part of their mandatory two-year training.
For more information on staff training, see the Staff section.
A sentence execution plan is prepared for each prisoner. A staff member, called a “contact officer”, establishes the project in collaboration with the prisoner.
The contact officer is responsible for assisting the prisoner in addressing practical matters related to the execution of their sentence (probation, transfer, temporary absences, etc.) and issues related to training, health, etc.
Some facilities use the “individual project”, usually employed by welfare services. The latter is based on the results of a quick survey (BRIK). Some prisoners are offered the development of a “future project”.
The BRIK survey studies the needs and resources of prisoners (Behovs- og ressurskartlegging i Kriminalomsorgen).
Access to rights
Prisoners can be assisted by a lawyer throughout their incarceration
Prisoners have access to a legal aid centre
Voluntary organisations provide legal assistance to prison inmates, for example, JussBuss or JURK (legal assistance for female inmates).
The arrangements made to allow prison inmates to meet with their lawyers are adequate regarding physical space, time and confidentiality.
Deaths in custody are logged in a register
Number of deaths in custody
Number of deaths attributed to suicide
Death rate in custody (per 10,000 prisoners)
Suicide rate in custody (per 10,000 prisoners)
National suicide rate (per 10,000 inhabitants)
The prison service must notify a judicial authority for
Cases of violent or suspicious deaths or suicides are referred to the court. A doctor, internal or external to the establishment, is notified.
Relatives are immediately informed of the death by a chaplain or the local police.
Citing their legal duty of confidentiality, prison officials refused to hand over medical documents concerning the death of a prisoner to his family and wife. The Ombudsman was skeptical about the legitimacy of this claim and recalled that this duty does not prevent the use of information “when no legitimate interest invokes confidentiality.” No such legitimate interest was demonstrated. The officials’ decision did not consider the option to partially share the documents. The Ombudsman asked prison officials to reexamine the family’s request.
The remains of a prison inmate are treated respectfully and returned to their family.
Suicide prevention policies are implemented
Suicide prevention policies are addressed during mandatory staff training. The admissions survey includes questions to help identify prisoners who are more likely to attempt suicide. Health care workers are advised.
Some facilities provide ongoing monitoring in the event of a suicide attempt or risk of suicide. The prisoner is placed in solitary confinement. Security measures are a last resort. Staff must implement non-security measures as a priority.
The prohibition of torture is enshrined in the Constitution and the legislation
The United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) was
ratified in 1986
(signed in 1985)
The Penal Code and the regulations to which prison officers are subject provide for protection against physical or verbal abuse and sexual harassment of prison inmates.
All allegations and suspicions of ill-treatment inflicted on prisoners are logged
A prevention policy is in place. It is part of compulsory correctional staff training.
Number of recorded violent acts between prisoners
Data not disclosed
Norwegian Penitentiary Service does not disclose the number of violent acts between prisoners.
The Penal Code provides for protection against physical or verbal violence and sexual harassment amongst fellow inmates.
Each prison facility keeps an updated record of violence between inmates
Acts of violence between prisoners are investigated
The Justice Department is notified if the matter is considered serious. This will be investigated upon.
The level of inter-prisoner violence is, according to the CPT, relatively low. Incidents appear to be contained and resolved by prison staff1. In the facilities visited in 2018, the CPT’s delegation did not receive any complaints concerning physical ill-treatment or verbal abuse by prison staff2.
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), “Report to the Government of the Kingdom of Norway on the visit to Norway from 28 May to 5 June 2018”, 2019, p. 32. ↩
Ibid., p. 05. ↩
Number of complaints filed by prisoners against the prison service
Data not disclosed
Norwegian Penitentiary Service does not disclose the number of complaints.
Prison inmates can file complaints against the prison administration. They may submit their complaint in writing in a sealed envelope or through a lawyer.
Specialized bodies receive these complaints. Some are administrative in nature, others are not.
The prisoner may address their complaint to the regional or central prison administration or to the courts.
The specialized bodies are:
National Preventive Mechanisms and other external control bodies
The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) was
ratified in 2013
signed in 2003
An NPM has been established
yes, in 2014
Name of the NPM
Parliamentary Ombudsman for Public Administration
The NPM has come into office
yes, in 2014
The NPM was appointed by
Structure of the NPM
The Ombudsman is the head of the NPM. In the NPM, a team of seven staff work exclusively for the Ombudsman, who recruits team members in accordance with the traditional recruitment process.
Term of office of the NPM
4 years, renewable, irrevocable
The term of office may be renewed by a vote of Parliament. A qualified 2/3 majority is required.
The NPM reports are made public
The NPM publishes visits, thematic and annual reports.
Number of visits made by the NPM during the year
Since its establishment in 2014, NPM has visited 19 correctional facilities over 20 visits, one of which was a follow-up visit (Bergen).
The legislation allows the NPM to carry out unannounced visits
Most visits made by the NPM are “partially unannounced”. The NPM announces the period during which the visit will take place (e.g. within two or three months), but not the exact date.
Any citizen may contact the NPM regarding the conditions of detention.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman is mandated to receive complaints. A third party may file a complaint on behalf of the victim. This victim must submit their authorization to file a complaint by mail. Lawyers do not need this letter of authorization to file a complaint on behalf of their clients.
Complaints should be sent in a sealed envelope. Prisoners are required to make the same complaint to the prison administration prior to sending it to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, which should give the administration the opportunity to find a solution to the situation in question. The Parliamentary Ombudsman is only called upon after all appeals have been exhausted.
The NPM can monitor all prison facilities, units and premises
The NPM recommendations are effectively implemented
in most cases
A follow-up mechanism for NPM recommendations is established. The NPM sends a letter to the director of the facility, after the visit, summarizing their recommendations. The facility has three months to respond. The NPM and the director exchange correspondence, in writing, on implementation of the recommendations.
The NPM may request further information if it considers the changes made unsatisfactory. Most responses to these queries are considered satisfactory and cases are closed after the exchange of a few letters.
The NPM’s recommendations are summary and non-restrictive. Their successful implementation is the result of a collaborative process.
A regional body monitors the places of deprivation of liberty
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT)
Its reports are made public
The CPT carried out periodic visits to Norway in 1993, 1997, 1999, 2005, 2011 and 2018. One ad hoc visit was carried out in 1997.
The Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture (SPT) has visited the country
Sentence adjustments policies
The law provides for a sentence adjustment system
The granting of a sentence adjustment falls within the competence of the prison administration.
The sentence can be adjusted as soon as it is pronounced (ab initio)
Sentence adjustments can be granted during the incarceration
An inmate must have served 2/3 of their sentence before applying for an adjustment. Their behaviour is taken into account (Execution of Sentences Act, sections 42 and 43).
Prisoners can contest a negative decision of sentence adjustment
Specific categories of prisoners are ineligible for sentence adjustment
The law provides for a temporary release system
The Execution of Sentences Act provides for the possibility of day leaves to work, attend training, participate in a programme or other activities. The Correctional Service grants day leave in the absence of mandatory security measures.
The law provides for a sentence adjustment for medical reasons
The prison’s physician is required to notify the judge if they wish for a prisoner’s sentence to be adjusted for medical reasons. This opinion is usually taken into consideration.
The judge may not suspend the sentence. They may postpone its execution, introduce non-custodial measures or consider early release.
These measures are taken in case of serious illness. The heads of facilities are expected to make certain that the detention system can adapt for persons with medical issues.
Number of prisoners who have been granted a presidential pardon or amnesty during the year
The right of pardon is, according to Article 20 of the Norwegian Constitution a royal prerogative. The King delegates this power to the Minister of Justice and Public Security. The prisoner pardoned is released on parole.
The right of pardon is rarely used. It is reserved for special circumstances such as health problems, or the discovery of information unknown at the time of conviction.