Detention issue

Cell space

FRA research findings

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Legal instruments & key provisions

Legal instrument Key provision
Federal Prison Act (Strafvollzugsgesetz)Rooms in which prisoners spend the night and their leisure time, as well as common rooms and visiting rooms, shall be comfortable or otherwise equipped in a manner meeting their purpose. They shall have a sufficient cubic content of air and, for reasons of health, shall have sufficient heating and ventilation, floor space and size of windows.


Year Recommendation Report
2015The NPM visited the JVA Bruchsal in Baden-Württemberg where single cells sized 9 m2, including a toiled only separated by a curtain, were occupied by two prisoners. Report details
2016The NPM said that a single-occupancy cell should have floor space of at least 6 m2, excluding the sanitary area. In cases where the sanitary area is not partitioned, approximately one further square metre should be added for that area, giving a total floor space of at least seven square metres. For multiple-occupancy, a further four square metres of floor space must be added to this figure for each additional person, excluding the sanitary area. The NPM reported that inspectors found prisoners in cells sized below their standard, for instance, when they visited the JVA Passau in Bavaria in 2016 where several single cells sized 9.54 m2 where occupied by two prisoners. Report details
2017The NPM reported to have found cells sized below this standard in Traunstein in Bavaria and in Karlsruhe and Stuttgart in Baden-Württemberg. Report details
2019The NPM report notes that several prisons are run-down and in need of renovation in various areas. In some cases, the walls of the prison cells were extremely dirty and furniture was worn. Some cells only had very small windows installed in a high position. In particular, specially secured cells inspected were only equipped with a low bed or a mattress on the floor. The NPM report recommends that renovation measures should be carried out swiftly and in accordance with applicable standards. It further notes that where detention periods last several hours or days, it is inhumane to force prisoners to stand or sit on the floor. Report details