Contact with the outside world
All prisoners have the right to receive visits
Individuals placed in solitary confinement for serious disciplinary misconduct are not allowed to receive visits.
Untried prisoners have limited rights to visits, which must be authorised by a judge. The visiting room is equipped with a plexiglass window to separate inmates and visitors.
Prisoners with the “N” classification (high risk) are limited to two monthly visits for one hour each. The CPT recommends at least one hour per week for all inmates1.
Some inmates signalled to a CPT delegation their inability to visit incarcerated relatives in different blocks of the same institution.
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. ↩
Prison governors grant convicts permission for visits. In the case of untried prisoners, these permissions are subject to the approval of the court or the prosecutor. Additional visits are sometimes granted.
Visit permits are granted
No complaints related to obtaining visiting rights have been reported. The administration does not allow for the possibility of reserving a visiting room. Visitors sometimes wait many hours before reaching their loved one.
People eligible to visit
family and friends
Visitors must receive special authorisation to visit a non-relative.
Visits last one hour.
Their frequency varies depending on the type of establishment:
- minimum-security establishment – no visiting limits
- medium-security establishment – three visits per month, which the prison governor has the right to suspend
- maximum-security establishments – two visits per month, which the prison governor has the right to suspend
Prisoners under the age of 21 or parents of young children have the right to an additional visit.
Prisoners with “N” classification speak to their family and friends using an interphone. The conversations are monitored.
Longer or unsupervised visits may be granted as a reward, but not all prison establishments have adequate facilities1.
Visits are not supervised in open prisons.
The Biala Podlaska prison does not guarantee any privacy to foreigners during visits (glass partition, presence of a guard in the hallway, video surveillance). Prison management do not have the authority to implement foreigners’ rights, making it difficult to obtain permission for visits.
Prisoners and visitors can meet without physical barriers
Prisoners are allowed to receive visits from their children or minor relatives
yes, equipped areas are provided
Conjugal visits are allowed
Required conditions for conjugal visits
There are no specific indications about the conditions required to be allowed conjugal visits. The decision is made by the prison governor.
Visitors are allowed to bring food, up to 5 kilogrammes.
No legal provisions define the maximum distance between the prison institution and the place of residence of the inmate. In practice, the prison administration makes an effort to place inmates in an institution close to their residence. This is especially true for inmates with young children.
Prisoners are allowed to exchange mail
The prison administration helps inmates without sufficient resources send correspondence, pursuant to Paragraph 18, Chapter 5 of the regulations of the Ministry of Justice.
Mail exchanged is subject to control
Correspondence is systematically subjected to censorship in closed establishments. This practice sometimes extends to semi-open establishments but never to open establishments.
Prisoners are allowed to exchange mail in sealed envelopes
Confidentiality is guaranteed for correspondence with the Commissioner for Human Rights and lawyers.
Prisoners are allowed to receive parcels
Prisoners may receive one food package per month. They may not amass more than six kilogrammes of food or more than eight litres of liquid products in their cells (Paragraph 13, Chapter 4 of the regulations of the Ministry of Justice).
Packages of clothing, bedding, shoes, hygiene products and other objects meant for personal use are subject to the authorisation of the prison governor.
In 2016, the Commissioner for Human Rights noticed irregularities in the distribution of packages.
E-mail exchange is possible
Prisoners are allowed to make external phone calls
Prisoners can use, at their own expense, pay telephones on the days and at the times set by the internal regulations. Individuals placed in pre-trial detention have access to a telephone solely with the permission of the authority in charge of their case file and only to communicate with their defence lawyer or solicitor and, in justified cases, with a loved one. The daily authorised conversation time may not exceed five minutes (except conversations with the judicial police and the investigating court, judicial bodies, regional government, mediator, the Children’s Ombudsman, etc.)1. The right to make telephone calls may be revoked as a disciplinary sanction2.
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. 39. ↩
The phones are located
in the corridors
The cost of phone calls is in line with market prices
The prices vary depending on the company providing the service. The Commissioner for Human Rights received a considerable number of complaints regarding the high prices of telephone calls in some establishments. The system of billing the person receiving the call is an issue.
Phones calls are wire tapped
The use of cell phones is authorised
Prisoners have access to video calls with external contacts
Inmates, especially foreign ones, may communicate by Internet and videoconference with their family and friends.