The development of the Corona situation has affected Norway heavily. Due to the situation, KDI introduced a number of measures in March, which affect the whole correctional service. This was seen as strictly necessary and in line with the national goal to prevent the spread of the Corona virus.
The Directorate of Norwegian Correctional Service has decided that some of the measures introduced might be adjusted as of 18 May 2020. As of 20 May, inmates will, to some extent, be allowed to receive visits. As of 22.June, most of the measures are revoked.
The Norwegian correctional service has established a hotline where relatives and family members of inmates and persons in custody can receive information and support during the Corona crisis.
The aim of the hotline is to inform family members and relatives of inmates about the measures which have been taken by the correctional service in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in prisons, as well as to inform on how these measures affect the inmates. Another important function is to give relatives and family members emotional support during this difficult period.
You may be anonymous when you phone the hotline.
The hotline is not meant for general questions about Covid-19. Such questions should be referred to official national channels established by the national health authorities.
The hotline is not meant for questions concerning individuals or specific prisons. If needed, family members and relatives will be referred to the facility in question.
The hotline is operational as of 15 April 2020, and is open weekdays from 0900-1500.
The hotline will be in operation until 31.12.2020.
As of 22 June, inmates will again be allowed to receive visits. Before a visit can take place, the visitor shall be interviewed according to the questionnaire/survey form to prevent the spread of Corona. Inmates and visitors must comply with the current distance- and hygiene rules. As of yet, overnight stay at visitors’ lodges where these are present, is not allowed.
Visits from lawyers/police officer/prosecutors
As of 22 June, inmates will again be allowed to receive visits as usual. Before a visit can take place, the visitor shall be interviewed according to the questionnaire/survey form to prevent the spread of Corona.
Inmates and visitors must comply with the current distance- and hygiene rules. When easing the ban on visits 20 May, the same virus prevention measures and the ban on physical contact and distance rules, applied to lawyers and representatives for police and prosecutors, as for other visitors. In the period from 13 March – 17 May, lawyers were recommended to have conversations with their clients in prisons by telephone or video link. In case the lawyer still would like to confer with his/her client at the prison, special consideration would be taken to ensure measures to prevent the spread of the virus, such as using glass wall and enforcement of the one meter distance rule. The same procedure applied for police investigators and visits by embassy representatives.
Visits from representatives of volunteer organizations.
As of 22 June, inmates will again be allowed to receive visits as usual. Before a visit can take place, the visitor shall be interviewed, in line with the current questionnaire/survey form to prevent the spread of Corona. Inmates and visitors must comply with the current distance- and hygiene rules. When easing the ban on visits 20 May, the same virus prevention measures and the ban on physical contact and distance rules, applied to lawyers and representatives for police and prosecutors, as for other visitors.
The Norwegian correctional service has introduced a string of measures in order to ease inmates’ situation.
Among the measures are:
- Extended telephone time (suspended as of 21 June 2020)
- Purchase of tablets for online visits.
- Extended selection of TV-channels.
- Distribution of fruit.
- Increased access to books and audio books.
- Access to video games with different levels of difficulty. (The games shall not be of a violent or sexual character.)
- All inmates have been encouraged to exercise in their cells.
- Distribution of information booklets and exercises for yoga/mediation have been demonstrated for the inmates.
- Daily quizzes and other competitions with prizes for the winner.
- Involvement of inmates in simple production, packing and assembly in their cells.
All summons to prison and reception of convicted persons to prison with lower security level and halfway houses were suspended in March. This measure concerned both prison sentences and fines. Prison facilities have tried to contact all persons, who have been summoned to serve their sentence in prisons with lower security and halfway houses. The correctional service does, however, not always manage to get in contact with all persons. If you have been summoned to serve your sentence in the abovementioned facilities, and have not been contacted by the correctional service, we kindly ask you to contact the prison/facility prior to meeting up to serve the sentence.
As of 18 May, persons who were supposed to serve a prison sentence for unpaid fines were not summoned or admitted to serve the sentence. In lower security facilities, inmates could be summoned to serve the sentence, given that the facility was able to handle the risk of spread of the Corona virus. This means that the facility had a structure where it was possible to keep new inmates in quarantine until they had been tested for the Corona virus, and had had an introductory conversation.
As of 22 June, persons will again be summoned to serve sentences for unpaid fines, as will the execution of sentences at a lower security level.
Intake of persons to high security prisons was limited to a minimum in March. Intake was only to take place if it was regarded as strictly necessary from a security point of view. As of 18 May, it became possible to increase the number of summons and intake of inmates to high security prisons, if the facility had the necessary capacity and could handle the prevention of spread of the Corona virus. Convicted persons who under normal circumstances would have been summoned to serve the sentence in lower security prisons, could be summoned to high security prisons (The Execution of Sentences Regulations §4-3).
As of 22 June, persons will again be summoned to serve their sentence in high security prisons.
Until 18 May, new inmates have, as a main rule, been placed in quarantine for 14 days. They have not been permitted to socialize with other inmates. As of 18 May, this practice has been adjusted, and new inmates are not permitted to socialize with other inmates until their health situation has been checked by the health department, and, if necessary, they have been tested for the Corona virus.
As of 22 June, automatic isolation in quarantine will only be enforced when the inmate is ill, has symptoms of infection, or meets the quarantine or isolation requirements set by central health authorities.
The Directorate of Norwegian Correctional Service decided on 13 March 2020 that a sentence could be disrupted if there was a violation in the execution of sentence with electronic monitoring, upon which the convicted person should be transferred to a facility with lower security. The Directorate of Norwegian Correctional Service has decided to discontinue this measure from 18 May 2020. The convicted person will be transferred to prison if the violation qualifies for prison sentence.
In the period from 01 March – 21 June, inmates were supposed to be accommodated in single bed cells. Sitautions where inmates were accommodated in double cells or multiple occupancy cells, were to be discontinued as soon as possible. This concerned both high security prisons, lower security prisons and halfway houses. As of 22 June, multiple occupancy cells will again be taken into use. Inmates who consent to be accommodated in multiple occupancy cells shall be prioritized.
As of 22 June, the rules for leave and day leave will return to as they were before the Corona pandemi. This concerns both ordinary leave and welfare leave. When returning to the facility, the inmate should as far as possible, complete the questionnaire for registering possible exposure to Corona.
All leaves and day leaves were suspended in March. Exceptions could only be made due to extraordinary circumstances. Exceptions due to extraordinary circumstances was only meant to be implemented in exceptional cases, and only when the governor of the facility considered that the leave was absolutely necessary, and it was decided that there was no risk for spreading the Corona virus. The reasoning behind the exception was to enable facilities to not refuse leaves which were considered absolutely necessary. A consequence of the suspension of leave has been that leaves which were meant for rehabilitative purposes have not been possible to enforce. At the same time, suspending leaves and day leaves has been an important measure to prevent the spread of the virus in prisons.
As of 22 June escorted leave is again carried out. Use of escorted leave was suspended in March. Exceptions could be made under extraordinary circumstances, and only in cases where the governor of the facility meant that it was absolutely necessary, and where it was determined that there was no risk for spreading the Corona virus. Escorted leave was only to be carried out in exceptional cases.
As of 22 June temporary release/day release is permitted.
Inmates may be released on parole from prison, given that the inmate accepts electronic control measures, such as ankle bracelet, remote alcohol test, and video conversation.
Such control measures will make it possible to grant release on parole in cases when under other circumstances it would not have been permissible.
Inmates were granted additional time for telephone calls, as visits were not allowed until 22 June. This measure was suspended on 21 June.
In exceptional cases the execution of sentence might be interrupted or early release may be granted, if this is regarded to be advisable in the given case. It has been assessed that the Corona situation allows for this possibility, and that the measure concerns both prison and probation.
KDI decided on 02 March that use of the prison dog service should be temporarily suspended. This decision was extended until 01 May, and later until 01 June. The prison dog service is again operational from 01 June.