Incarceration rate (per 100,000 inhabitants)



The authorities publish official statistics on prison population

regularly, every two weeks

The prison service has a computerised record keeping system


Total number of prisoners



Number of people serving non-custodial sentences


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

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

Number of admissions


/ SPACE I, 2018, p. 93.

Number of releases


/ SPACE I, 2018, p. 93.

Average length of imprisonment (in months)


/ SPACE I, 2018, 108.

Prison density

85 %


Overcrowding is an issue for specific types of prison facilities


Remand centres are generally more overpopulated than prisons for convicted prisoners.

The country has been condemned by an international court for its prison overcrowding

yes, by the ECHR in February 2009

Prison overpopulation has been a problem since 2000, when Lech Kaczyński joined the Ministry of Justice and brought with him stricter prison policies. Overpopulation reached 140%. In 2009, the ECHR heard the cases Orchowski v. Poland and Sikorski v. Poland and ruled that overpopulation was a widespread problem. Polish authorities have since made an effort to resolve this problem.

The prison system was reformed in 2013. The gravity of some sentences described in the Penal Code was redefined. According to official statistics from the Ministry of Justice, the number of incarcerated individuals decreased between 2012 and 2015. Sentences delivered during this period were primarily custodial sentences, mostly limited to six months. The number of repeat offenders also decreased during this period. This trend changed in 2015, when the “Prawo I Sprawiedliwość” (PIS, “Law and Justice”) party won the legislative elections.

After several years of declining, the detention rate in remand centres and prisons for convicted prisoners increased again,

A supervisory body has issued a decision on prison overcrowding


The Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT).
After a follow-up visit, the CPT expressed their concerns regarding prison overpopulation in Poland in all the reports that it published.

Name of authority in charge of the prison service

Ministry of Justice

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

(Ministerstwo Sprawiedliwosci)

Budget of the prison service


Dollars — PLN 2,815 million

/ Ministry of Justice

Percentage of the ministerial budget allocated to the prison service

58.7 %

/ Ministry of Justice

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


The prison system is managed by a centralised administration.

The different detention regimes are:

  • the closed regime
  • the semi-open regime
  • the open regime

The average daily cost of detention for one prisoner is estimated at PLN 103 (25 USD). The annual cost of each inmate is $9,503 (PLN 37,200).

The different types of institutions are:

  • remand centres, 46 in total
  • prisons for convicted prisoners, 84 in total
  • open prisons, 44 in total (oddziały zewnętrzne)
  • juvenile correctional facilities

The detention regimes can be closed, semi-open, or open. The prison system includes 24 high-security units.
The semi-open and open prisons offer better conditions of detention with open institutions making up 32.5% of facilities.

Total number of prison facilities



Total official capacity of the prison facilities



Variation in the capacity of the prison facilities

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 correctional facilities can vary significantly. The largest correctional facility is the remand centre of Warszawa-Białołęka, with a capacity of 1,537. The smallest is the remand centre of Dzialdowo, with a capacity of 102.

Prison facilities are accessible by public transport


Most of the correctional facilities are located in town. Some facilities, like the Czewony Bor prison in Nowogard, were built on the outskirts.

Some older buildings have been repurposed for prison use. For example, Koronowo Prison is located in a former fourteenth-century monastery, the pre-trial detention centre in Bialystok is located in a nineteenth-century military barracks and Nowy Wiśnicz Prison is in a seventeenth-century monastery.

Number of prison guards (FTE)


/ [SPACE I] (http://wp.unil.ch/space/files/2019/06/FinalReportSPACEI2018_190611-1.pdf), 2018, p. 75.

Guard to prisoner ratio

1 : 5.2

/ SPACE I, 2018, p.78

Number of socio-educational workers (FTE)


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

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


Training for prison officers lasts two years.
The prerequisites to apply are:

  • be over 18
  • have a clean criminal record
  • be of Polish nationality
  • have a bachelor’s degree

The construction of a state police academy was part of the prison administration reform. This training centre will offer courses in secondary schools. The prison reform also provided for the training of prison officers who had already been recruited. They will undergo training in firearms, physical exercise, and new defence techniques.

The socio-educational staff must have Masters-level training. This group includes prison educators, educators for reintegration after release and an educator for cultural and educational activities.

Members of the socio-educational staff include:

  • 1545 educators
  • 53 lawyers
  • 56 psychologists
  • 48 sociologists1

  1. Central Board of Prison Service, “Statistics Department”, 31 December 2017. 

The prison staff does not have the right to go on strike.

A protest by law enforcement was organised on 2 October 2018 in Warsaw. Prison staff took part in it. The protest was considered the largest in the history of Polish government services. The protestors demanded an immediate improvement of their work conditions as well as wage increases.

The prison staff can be divided into three groups:

  • those in direct contact with the inmates
  • those occasionally in contact with the inmates
  • those with no contact with the inmates

The first category includes the guards, who are responsible for providing security, order, and basic services in the residential units. This group also includes civilian personnel, such as educators, psychologists, doctors and teachers.

The second category includes the members of the management of the institution and other members of the administration. They are responsible for inspections and making sure the institutions run properly.

The third category includes the external security service, the finance and personnel management department, various employees such as drivers and maintenance workers, and part of the staff of the Central Board of the Prison Service.