Inmates control the prison

Behind bars What inmates are allowed to do - and what not

How are the rights and duties of prisoners determined in Germany?

As in many other areas, the legislative competence for the structuring of penal and pre-trial detention lies with the federal states. Accordingly, the rights and obligations of prisoners - and thus the possibilities for their rehabilitation as well as the requirements for their safe accommodation and supervision - differ from country to country. In addition, in most countries there are separate sets of rules for the penal system, youth custody, youth arrest and pre-trial detention. The legal situation in the Free State of Saxony is shown below.

How many prisons are there in the Free State of Saxony and who decides in which prison a convicted person has to serve his sentence?

There are currently ten prisons in Saxony, including a correctional facility for female prisoners only (in Chemnitz), a correctional facility with an attached hospital (in Leipzig), a juvenile prison (in Regis-Breitingen near Borna) and a correctional facility that also houses preventive detainees (in Bautzen). A total of 3,878 prison places are available, around 90% of which have been occupied in previous years. The prison in which a convicted person has to serve the imprisonment imposed on him is determined according to a so-called execution plan. In this case, the length of the imprisonment imposed and accommodation as close to home as possible are the decisive criteria for the distribution of prisoners.

How many prisoners are in a cell?

In principle, the prisoners are housed individually in the cells. Joint accommodation is permitted if the prisoner agrees and no harmful influences are to be feared or if a prisoner is in need of help or if there is a risk to life or health.

Can prisoners use the media to find out about life outside of prison?

The prisoners may obtain newspapers and magazines to a reasonable extent at their own expense through the agency of the institution. This also has to give the prisoners access to the radio. In this respect, prisoners' own radio and television sets are generally permitted in the detention rooms.

Are prisoners allowed to receive visitors?

The prisoners are allowed to receive visitors for four hours a month. The respective head of the institution can provide for longer visiting times. The visits are supervised, but the conversations may only be monitored by the prison staff insofar as this is necessary in individual cases due to a risk to the prison goal or for reasons of security or order in the institution. The director of the institution can also allow unattended visits lasting several hours if this appears necessary to maintain family, partnership or equivalent contacts of the prisoners and the prisoners are suitable for this. The institution has special rooms for these long-term visits.

What about telephone calls and other forms of telecommunications with the "outside world"?

Prisoners can be allowed to make phone calls at their own expense. He has to use the telephone facility of the institution, the possession and use of cell phones are prohibited. The prisoners also have the right to send and receive letters at their own expense. The same applies to the receipt and dispatch of parcels. The prison director can even allow the prisoners to communicate by e-mail. The only thing that is checked is that the letters and parcels do not contain any prohibited items. The correspondence will only be monitored if this is necessary because of a risk to the aim of the execution or for reasons of security or order in the institution.

Are there opportunities for meaningful leisure activities in prisons?

The prisons are equipped with sports facilities (sports field, gymnasium and / or weight training and gymnastics room). There is also a library in every institution. Further cultural and educational offers are standard.

What sanctions threaten a prisoner who violates the prison regulations?

If a prisoner commits a criminal offense or an administrative offense or if he violates certain prison rules, the prison director can impose disciplinary measures on him. In this respect, among other things, the restriction or withdrawal of television reception for up to three months, the restriction or withdrawal of stay in the community or participation in individual leisure events for up to three months or a reduction in wages by ten percent for up to three months. Disciplinary measures are also permitted if criminal or fine proceedings are initiated for the same misconduct. Several disciplinary measures can also be combined with one another.

Is there still solitary confinement?

The toughest disciplinary measure is what is known as the disciplinary separation. It may only be imposed because of serious or repeated misconduct. For the duration of the disciplinary separation, the prisoners are housed separately from other prisoners. They can be placed in a special cell.

Unless otherwise ordered, the prisoner is not allowed to take part in activities outside of the cell during this period, to furnish the room with his own items, to receive television and not to go shopping. Items for leisure activities, with the exception of reading material, are not permitted. Only the rights to participate in church services and to stay outdoors remain unaffected.

A doctor should be heard before a disciplinary separation is enforced. During the disciplinary separation, the prisoners are under medical supervision. Enforcement is not carried out or is interrupted if the prisoners' health would otherwise be endangered.

What do prisoners earn when they work in the penal institution?

Prisoners are not workers. Therefore, the minimum wage does not apply to them. The federal penal law stipulates that the remuneration is basically 9 percent of the average income of all persons with statutory pension insurance in the previous year. In 2018 that is 13.15 euros per day (not: per hour). Depending on the type of work and the performance of the prisoner, the remuneration can be up to 40 percent below this amount, but it can also exceed it. Under certain conditions, the prisoners receive pocket money instead of or in addition to their remuneration.

Do prisoners have to work?

If possible, the prisoners should be given work appropriate to their abilities, provided they are physically and mentally able to do so. This work serves - like the penal system as a whole - rehabilitation. This goal can only be achieved if the prisoner is willing to cooperate. Therefore there is no obligation to work. However, there are instruments to encourage the prisoner's willingness to cooperate. For example, prisoners who have not accepted a reasonable job or qualification measure offered to them or who have lost a work or qualification measure through fault can have their pocket money temporarily canceled.

What does it cost the state to place a prisoner?

The costs per detention place vary between the federal states. These costs are made up of the daily liability cost rate, which includes the personnel costs, material costs, depreciation and income, the property investment rate and the construction investment rate. The total costs per prison place determined in this way were, for example, 110.13 euros per day in the Free State of Saxony in 2014.