Contributor(s)APADOR-CH / independents experts

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The use of cell phones is authorised


Only prisoners under open regimes or with a professional duty outside the prison can have mobile phones. The phones must not have internet access.

  • The prison service confiscated more than 7,000 unauthorised mobile phones from 2017 to 2020. It plans to install radio jammers soon, to disrupt mobile phone use.

    / DIGI 24 (in Romanian)

The cost of phone calls is in line with market prices


Prisoners must load prepaid cards for phone calls.

  • Prisoners in Târgu Jiu prison complain about the telephone call rate of 0.53 lei per minute. The rate is higher than that of other prisons.

    / APADOR-CH, “Report on the Visit to Târgu Jiu prison”.

Required conditions for conjugal visits

  • marriage
  • intimate partners
  • The prison service has made a medical certificate and screening compulsory since 15 May 2020 for all conjugal visitors as a preventive measure for the Covid-19 pandemic.

    / Prison Service (in Romanian)

Prisoners are free to practice their religion and follow their beliefs


  • Three Jewish prisoners in Rahova prison are forced to practise their faith only in their cells, as no religious representatives and dedicated place of worship are available. They express having conflicts with their Christian co-prisoners. The NPM recommends that the prison service keep these three prisoners in the same cell.

    / People’s Advocate, Recommendation no. 148 of 4 August 2020

Salaries are

significantly below the national minimum wage

The net wages paid by the companies are comparable to salaries on the outside. The prison service takes 60% of what prisoners receive from their work. Prisoners are allowed to use 10% of their income during their confinement. The rest is put in an account in their name that they can access when they are released.

  • As of 1 January 2019, the cost per prisoner is $12.34 lei per hour for outside companies. In 2019, the prison service received 61 million lei, or 10 million euros, thanks to the work prisoners did.

    / (in Romania)

The prison service provides food that respects special dietary needs


The prison service is required to respect the dietary restrictions of the prisoners for every meal. Whether or not the institution follows this rule is up to them.

  • In 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) gave its verdict regarding a complaint made by two Israeli prisoners at Rahova prison in 2015. Deprived of the option of a kosher diet, they experienced prejudice and asked that a faith-based diet be made available to them. The prison service did however allow them to cook for themselves and offered a partial refund for kosher foods. The court ultimately sided with the administration and rejected the prisoners’ complaint.

    / ECHR, Erlich and Kastro v. Romania, 23735/16 and 23740/16

The law provides for a temporary release system


Permissions for temporary release may be granted for good behaviour.1

  1. Article 213, Prison Regulations (in Romanian). 

  • In 2019, the service granted 5,749 24-hour leaves and 2,950 leaves exceeding 24 hours.

    / Prison service, "Annual activity report 2019", p. 24 (in Romanian).

Correctional facilities are monitored by other bodies. The APADOR-CH association has an agreement with the prison service, and regularly carries out monitoring visits within the facilities. It publishes its reports and recommendations on its website. The prison service also has its own internal control body: the inspection of penitentiary services.

  • In 2019, the inspection of penitentiary services carried out ten “thematic” checks and 25 unannounced checks. It received 333 complaints, 48 of which were deemed admissible.

    / Prison service, "Annual activity report 2019", p. 48 (in Romanian).

The People’s Advocate may be contacted by any person via mail, e-mail, fax or by filing a request with the regional offices. The person must specify their name, address and the reasons for their request. The events in question must have occurred within the previous year. Letters addressed to the People’s Advocate do not require stamps and cannot be withheld by prison authorities.

  • In 2019, the People’s Advocate received 518 letters of complaint from penitentiary facilities. The complaints mainly concerned confinement conditions, food, violence in prison, as well as the use of video surveillance.

    / People's Advocate, "Annual activity report 2019", p. 24.

Number of deaths in custody


/ Prison Service, "Annual activity report 2019", p. 34. (In Romanian)

Deaths in 2019 were mainly due to cardiovascular disease (16) and cancer (16), HIV/AIDS infections (6) and suicide (7). Two homicides were reported. Prisoner deaths occurred in public hospitals (41.4%), prison hospitals (37.1%) and within prisons (21.4%).

  • Three prisoners died on 17 March 2020, due to an act of arson the arson in their cell in Satu Mare prison. All prisoners were evacuated from the facility due to the smoke. The judicial authorities conducted an investigation to establish the causes and circumstances of the fire.

    / Radio Europa Libera România (In Romanian)

There is a reception area for arriving prisoners

in all facilities

Prisoners are placed under observation upon arrival for up to 21 days. Prison staff examine the prisoner’s behaviour and personality, as well as the psycho-social risks they present. 1

  1. Articles 105 to 107, Prison Regulations (in Romanian) 

  • During a visit in 2018, the CPT found that prisoners were subjected to violence when moving from the arrival ward to the general prison regime. It deplored the neglect of individuals placed in the new arrival units.

    / CPT, "Report to the Romanian Government on the visit from 7 to 19 February 2018", p. 74.