Updated on 9 November 2020
Measures set in force by the Correctional Service Directorate of Norwegian Correctional Service – KDI Information in this document might be subject to change, due to the current circumstances. The document was updated 23 March 2020.
Establishment of a crisis response team The crisis response team meets daily as of 13 March 2020.
Reduced requirement to exploit capacity in big open facilities All inmates should have single bed cells as soon as possible, in order to prevent the spread of infection. The correctional service has decided to reduce the requirement to exploit prison capacity by abolishing the use of double cells and cells with several beds. This concerns both high security prisons, lower security prisons and halfway houses. This will be put into action as soon as possible.
Immediate suspension of leaves and day releases All leaves and day releases are suspended. Exceptions can be made under extraordinary circumstances. (The Execution of Sentences Act § 20: Day-release, § 33: Leave of absence from prison). Limited use of escorted leave The use of escorted leave shall be reduced to an absolute minimum, for example visits related to necessary health treatment. (The Execution of Sentences Act § 34: Escorted leave).
New regulations concerning electronic monitoring (EM)
The correctional service is introducing a new temporary practice for EM. A simplified procedure is introduced, which implies that physical contact between the convicted and probation service staff is reduced. The correctional service recommends using EM as part of the sentence, as this will relieve the current situation in prisons. The new regulations enter into force immediately, and will initially stay in force until 01 May 2020.
As of 17 March and provisionally until 13 May 2020, community service sentences will be temporarily suspended. Exceptions may occur.
Inmates belonging to a risk group, and inmates who are infected by the Corona virus shall be excluded from company with other inmates, according to § 37. (The Execution of sentences act, § 37: Exclusion from company as a preventive measure).
Limitations to the intake of convicted persons to prisons, as well as limitations in summons of convicted persons to serve sentences and ﬁnes in prison. The summons of persons to serve their sentences in prison has been suspended, as has the intake of convicted persons to prisons. This concerns prisons with lower security and halfway houses. This measure applies to the serving of prison sentences, as well as for fines. Convicted persons, who already have been summoned, will be informed that they do not need to comply with the summons.
The intake of convicted persons to high security prisons shall be reduced to a minimum. Such intakes shall only be enforced when this is regarded as strictly necessary from a security point of view.
The measure concerns all convicted persons who have been summoned to serve their sentences up to 15 April 2020. Summons to serve after 15 April 2020 are still regarded to be in force. New summons will not be submitted.
Custody will continue to be instituted.
Suspension of the intake of convicted persons to the institutions where it is possible to serve the sentence. (The Execution of sentences act § 12: “Execution of sentence in an institution: In special cases, a sentence may be wholly or partly executed in the form of 24-hour detention in an institution if such detention is necessary for improving the convicted person`s capacity to function socially and in a law-abiding manner, or there are other compelling reasons for doing so”).
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, and the convicted person should be transferred to a facility with lower security. The Directorate of Norwegian Correctional Service has decided that this measure will be discontinued. The convicted person will be transferred to prison if the violation qualifies for summoning to prison.
As of 08 May 2020, the following decisions were taken regarding leaves and day releases:
Halfway houses: Leave and day leave can be granted if the convicted person has to undertake tasks regarded as strictly necessary and related to release in the near future. This might be to meet with a future employer, visit place of study or to view potential accommodation. In each case, an individual assessment must be made, where the risk for spreading the Corona virus, as well as prevention of spreading the virus, is a part of the assessment.
It must be taken into consideration whether escorted leave should be used instead of leave or day leave.
Lower security prisons: For the time being, leaves or day leave will not be granted in lower security prisons. (There is, however, one exception in one of the departments in Trondheim prison).
High security prisons: For the time being, leaves or day leave will not be granted in prisons with high security.
Escorted leave: The use of escorted leave was suspended in March 2020. Exceptions were made only under extraordinary circumstances, and only in cases when it was regarded by the prison governor as strictly necessary, and where there was no risk of spreading the Corona virus. The use of escorted leave was to be reduced to an absolute minimum.
As of 8 May KDI, has started to allow for use of escorted leave at all security levels. This is regarded as a part of the gradual reopening after the lock-down in society in general.
Escorted leaves can provide for rehabilitative purpose before inmates’ release. At the same time, the prison can assure that necessary measures in order to prevent the spreading of the Corona virus is ensured. This minimizes the risk of spreading the Corona virus to prisons.
Early release was abolished as of 01 May 2020.
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.
This is regarded as a consequence which the Corona situation allows for, and the measure concerns both prison and probation.
Early release was introduced as a measure on 16. March 2020, and on 3 April, the measure was extended until 1 May.
The Directorate of Norwegian Correctional Service decided on 27 April 2020 that early release as a measure to prevent the spread of the Corona virus should be abolished as of 1May 2020.
Early release might, however, still be granted after 01 May 2020, in case situations occur with an increase in infected persons (staff members and/or inmates) in prison, and the decrease in number of inmates would let the prison tackle the risk of spreading the Corona virus.
As of 20 May, inmates will, to some extent, be allowed to receive visits. From 13 March 2020, the Norwegian Correctional Service suspended all visits to Norwegian prisons. All visits to inmates were suspended until further notice. This decision was taken after the Norwegian government introduced national measures to prevent the spread of the Corona virus on 12 March 2020.
As of 20 May, visitors will have access to the prisons and visitors’ premises. Under the current circumstances, access has only been given representatives of the prosecutor’s office, police and lawyers, as well as mentors involved in the work against radicalization and violent extremism.
The current Corona-situation indicates that it is still not possible to offer an ordinary regime for visits in Norwegian prisons, as prescribed by law (The Law on Execution of Sentence § 31).
The correctional service aims to provide for normal visits in accordance with Norwegian legislation, regulations and guidelines, unless;
Easing of the restrictions will lead to challenges for the staff organizing visits. The challenges will vary from facility to facility (prisons).
Opening up for visits presupposes that each prison has enough staff members who can ensure visits take place in line with the stipulated requirements.
As of 23 March 2020, four staff members of the correctional service have been infected by the Corona virus. So far, no cases of Corona virus have been registered among inmates or convicted persons. The four staff members who are infected by Corona are in quarantine, and have not been in contact with other staff members or inmates.
There is agreement among central actors (trade unions etc.) concerning prolonged working hours (The Norwegian Working Environment Act (§ 10-6), and the possibility for use of 12 hour shifts (§ 10-5) for the entire institution. This provides for a more flexible system, reduces the attendance of employees. This will also avoid breaching the work hour regulations (§ 10-6: Overtime, § 10-5: Calculating average normal working hours)
Until further notice, it is not required to apply for an exemption when hiring prison officers without formal education. Persons who are unemployed, but have a formal education from the correctional service should in this case be prioritized when hiring.
Redeployment of employees between correctional facilities. Additional costs related to work travel can be covered if the travel distance is reasonable.
A notification letter listing critically important personnel /positions has been submitted to the National Guard.
A notification letter listing critically important personnel /positions has been submitted to all units of the correctional service, thus enabling employees to cross municipal boarders to reach work in eventually forbidden (closed) zones within the municipality.
Cancellation of vacation for employees KDI’s board of directors has decided to cancel employees’ planned vacations outside the Nordic countries.
The aim of the decision is to prevent a number of employees having to go in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Norway, should they go on vacation. Such a situation would cause serious operational problems for the correctional service.
Physical meetings (both external and internal) should be avoided until the end of April 2020, unless the management at a facility, the regional management, the management at KRUS or the management of KDI decides otherwise.
All duty travels abroad are cancelled as of 10 March 2020.
The University College of Norwegian Correctional Service – KRUS
All courses and seminars are suspended.
Mobile phones are not in use in Norwegian prisons. Increased use of tablets (I-pads) has been introduced because of Covid-19.
There is no planned lockdown in the Norwegian Correctional Service. The different restrictions which have been imposed during the Corona pandemic, have been manifested in circulars issued by the Directorate of Norwegian Correctional Service. The circulars have been revised and evaluated on a regular basis, according to the development of the pandemic in the society. In March many restrictions were enforced, after which they have been gradually eased. Currently, with rising infection rates, different restrictions are being enforced again. This is, however, currently dealt with on a local level. No lockdown is planned at the moment, but this might be subject to change.
For any further questions regarding the procedures in the state of emergency taken by the Norwegian Correctional Service please contact the following:
Kim Ekhaugen (Director of International Unit)
Supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union