Living conditions

The law establishes a minimum standard for living space per prisoner


The size of the cells and the equipment they contain conform to European Prison Rules, which recommend, without providing figures that cells satisfy the minimum standards of human dignity1.

  1. European Prison Observatory, “Prison conditions in Portugal”, 2013, p. 10. 

Prisoners are accommodated in single cells


Prisoners are placed in individual cells. Prisoners may be placed in collective enclosures in the following cases:

  • To meet the needs of families (a mother/father and their child)

  • To prevent risk of physical or psychological harm

  • In the case of a lack of space in the facility (article 34 of the Prison Rules)

Prisoners sleep on

a bed

All the prisoners are provided with bedding


Cells each have a mattress, a bed, bed linens, a chair and a cupboard.

Cells are fitted with a window that can be opened.

The cells/dormitories are provided with electric lighting


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


Prisoners are authorised to equip their cells with an electrical heating appliance or air conditioning unit, at their own expense.

Prisoners can smoke

  • in cells

  • in communal areas

Tobacco consumption is a criterion to assign prisoners to a cell (article 18 of the Regulations).

Prisoners have access to water

in their cell/dormitory

Showers are located in the cells/dormitories


Prisoners have a right to one shower per day. The water must be hot.

Types of sanitary facilities


Regulations provide for a washbasin and toilet or equivalent sanitary facilities in each cell (article 34 of the Regulations).

The facilities where prisoners are housed are equipped with a WC.

The prison service provides personal hygiene products free of charge

only for new arrivals and destitute prisoners

Prisoners can buy personal hygiene products.

The prison service provides cleaning products free of charge


Beddings are refreshed

yes, once a week

Bed linen changes are the responsibility of prisoners.

Rubbish is collected from cells once a day.

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


Number of meals per day


An additional meal is served at snack time.

Daily cost of meals per prisoner


Private companies are awarded €3.20 per day and per person to meet dietary needs.

Food services are managed by

private food services

The prison service provides food that respects special dietary needs


Specific diets are available for medical reasons and, “where possible”, for religious or philosophical reasons (article 45 of the Regulations).

Prisoners eat their meals in

a communal dining area

In the absence of a dining hall, the governor of the facility determines where meals are to be eaten.

Prisoners placed in a disciplinary cell eat their meals in the cell.

Prisoners can buy food products


Each facility has a canteen service where prisoners can buy food and non-food products. The DGRSP determines which products are made available to the prisoners.
The cost of the products is deducted from the prisoner’s personal account. The DGRSP determines the maximum amount of purchases (Article 50 of the Regulations).
Automatic vending machines give access to coffee, water, soft drinks, baked goods, and tobacco (article 51 of the Regulations).

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

in some facilities

Prisoners are allowed to cook in their cells or in a shared space designated for that purpose.

Prisoners are allowed to receive food parcels


Visitors are allowed to bring one food package every week weighing a maximum of 1 kg. On the occasion of a birthday, they can bring a pre-sliced cake weighing a maximum of 2 kg. Beverages are forbidden (article 48 of the Regulations).