Daily life

All prisoners are entitled to spend at least one hour a day in the open air

yes

The prison service offers activities to prisoners

yes

The prisoners have access to sports, and social and cultural activities. External educational, cultural, artistic or sports entities organise social or cultural activities in prison. In 2017, there were 282 entities for social and cultural activities, and 112 for physical and sports activities.

  • The new facilities at the Caldas da Rainha prison expanded the main building by 360m2. They included a double bedroom, a workshop, a general maintenance/training workshop, a multipurpose room and three rooms for teaching and professional training. Work activities included cleaning, maintenance and assembly of components for the construction. Low-security prisoners could carry out cleaning and maintenance tasks in public areas. As many prisoners were sentenced for driving without a licence, a partnership with a local driving school was established to allow them to obtain their driving licence. The prison authorities stated that they also offered psychosocial programmes; these included courses on morality and ethics, an incentive programme for addictive behaviour, and an integrated suicide prevention programme.

    i
    22/02/2022
    / DGRSP

There are designated places for physical activities and sports

yes

There are designated places for cultural activities

yes

The enrolment of prisoners in activities of their choice is subject to the approval of the facility’s management. The DGRSP has the right to object.

Prison facilities have a library

yes

The terms and frequency of access are determined by the director of each facility. The DGRSP has the obligation to promote partnerships with public, private, consular, or diplomatic institutions that aim to keep the available materials permanently up-to-date (Article 94 of the Regulations).

Work is compulsory

no

Number and percentage of prisoners who work

46.6 % (5,965)
i
31/12/2017
/ DGRSP, 2018, p. 88.

All prisoners are allowed to work

yes

The facility’s management must offer work to the prisoners, taking into account their skills and choices (article 41 of the Code governing the enforcement of sentences).

Labour as a punitive measure is prohibited

yes

Rules governing access to paid employment are established by the General Regulations for Prison Facilities (Chapter III of the Regulations).The prisoner must state their interest and willingness to occupy a position of employment. It is necessary to submit a written request.

The director of the facility has the discretion to assign the prisoner to a workstation or not. Where applicable, the prisoner can be subjected to a medical, physical or mental health examination.

Prisoners are not covered by employment contracts.

Prisoners are paid for their work

yes

Salaries are

significantly low

The remuneration of persons deprived of their freedom is greatly inferior to that paid externally. It varies according to whether a person works for the prison establishment or for a private company. In the latter case, pay is higher but remains vastly inferior to that in the rest of the country.

Portuguese law enacts the general principles governing the organisation and remuneration of work (Chapter II of the Code governing the enforcement of sentences). Fair pay is due. Remuneration is divided into four equal parts:

  • Personal purchases

  • Assistance upon leaving prison (this sum is returned to the prisoner upon release from prison)

  • Where applicable: payment of fines, compensating civil parties and other penal obligations

  • Where applicable: payment of family support

Prisoners are paid on a piecework basis

yes

In most cases, prisoners are paid on an hourly basis.

Their income is subject to social contributions

no

Their income is subject to social contributions. Social insurance contributions vary from one job to another. Private companies are not governed by labour law. They are free to integrate social inclusion and social protection mechanisms.
Work in the general interest (useful to the functioning of the establishment – kitchen, maintenance, laundry, etc.) paid for by the administration, is covered by workplace injury and sickness compensation.

Prisoners have the right to join trade unions

no

Authority(ies) in charge of education and vocational training

Ministry of Education and Higher Education

Prisoners enrolled in educational training

24.9 % (3,209)
i
31/12/2018
/ DGRSP

Outside entities participate in education in the prison environment (Article 71 of the Regulations). These organisations must have received approval.

Education is provided

in all facilities

The prison service implements measures to fight illiteracy

yes

The services responsible for the enforcement of sentences inform the prisoners of work opportunities. Compulsory education shall be given as a priority to young prisoners or persons with literacy or numeracy needs (article 38 of the Code governing the enforcement of sentences)(See section on Activities).

Prisoners are allowed to pass diplomas and entry examinations

yes

Number and percentage of prisoners enrolled in vocational training

8.8 % (1,129)
i
31/12/2018
/ DGRSP

Vocational training is provided

yes

The availability of occupational training programmes varies from one facility to another. Vocational training courses are set up according to the needs and resources of each establishment. Priority is given to the training of young prisoners (article 40 of the Code governing the enforcement of sentences).

  • Viseu prison provided first cycle education programmes, which would be extended to second cycle the following year. It offered various professional training programmes; the majority of these were short-term programmes, as most prisoners were serving short sentences. The programmes included road maintenance, building maintenance and agriculture. In total, there were 16 courses on offer, including housekeeping, maintenance and organisation of shared spaces, agriculture, metalworking, carpentry, and renovation work within the prison.

    i
    14/02/2022
    / DGRSP

Distance courses are available

yes

Class attendance counts as work. As such, the prisoner receives a gratuity (article 39 of the Code governing the enforcement of sentences).

Prisoners are allowed to keep themselves informed regularly on public affairs

yes

Prisoners should be given the opportunity to keep themselves informed of “relevant public events”, in particular by having access to newspapers, magazines, books, and radio and television broadcasts (article 74 of the Code for the enforcement of punishment). Each warden is free to adjust this general rule accordingly. Access to the media varies by institution.

Prisoners have access to a television

yes

Prisoners have access to a radio

yes

Prisoners have access to the press

yes

The written press is available in the library or via individual purchase.

The prison service allows access to Internet

no

Prisoners are free to practice their religion and follow their beliefs

yes

The freedom of conscience, religion and worship of the prisoner is guaranteed by law. The right to religious assistance and the practice of acts of worship must be respected. The right to the assistance of a religious minister and the right to possess religious objects may be restricted only for reasons of order and security.

Religious assistance takes place outside normal visiting hours (see section on visitation rights). In the event of serious illness of the prisoner, derogations may be granted to extend or add religious visits (Title X of the code for sentence enforcement: religious assistance).

Dedicated places of worship are available

in all facilities

Each prison has at least one room dedicated to the practice of worship. A single room can be used for the practice of several religions, which sometimes makes the practice of these religions complicated. The same room is sometimes used for both prayer and worship.

There are chaplains in the prisons

varies by religion

Regular religious assistance, guaranteed by the presence of chaplains in prison, is possible when justified by the number of prisoners with the same religious beliefs.

There is no policy to prevent religious radicalization. The people identified as radicalized are put in solitary confinement.

Individuals or organisations from the outside are allowed to participate in prison activities

yes

The DGRSP has a list of organizations authorised to enter the prison. (See section on Activities). The main organisations authorised to enter the prison are especially those which provide sports and socio-cultural activities. External participants are enlisted to carry out specific reintegration programmes (awareness of domestic violence, psychological well-being, responsibility and road safety).1.


  1. Directorate General for reintegration and penal services, “Report on activities and self-assessment, 2017”, 2018, p. 233-236. 

The DGRSP is required to accompany prisoners upon their release. Organisations are also involved, such as “O Companheiro” or “a Obra Vicentina”.

Prisoners are allowed to make use of financial resources

yes

Financial resources are accessible

in a nominative account

The nominative account is funded by the prisoner, when they have paid work, by their relatives, by the pension or retirement they receive.

Destitute prisoners receive financial or in-kind support

yes

The institution may provide clothing and personal hygiene products for indigent prisoners and/or for the child in care.
The prison administration is required to contribute to the costs of communication between indigent persons and their relatives. It provides four stamps and two five-minute calls per month.

Prisoners have the right to vote

yes

  • The participation rate of prisoners in the 2022 legislative elections elections was as follows:

    2022 legislative elections: 2871 votes, 30 % of the prison population

    2021 presidential election: 2431 votes, 25.3 %

    2021 municipal elections: 1665 votes, 16.8 %

    i
    11/02/2022
    / DGRSP