Measures by country

This table compiles the main measures implemented by different penitentiary administrations around the world to prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease COVID-19 inside prisons.

COUNTRYMOVEMENT RESTRICTIONS INSIDE PRISONDISCONTINUATION OR LIMITATION OF VISITSDISCONTINUATION OF PRISON LEAVES IMPROVEMENT OF CURRENT MEANS OF COMMUNICATIONREDUCING THE AMOUNT OF PRE-TRIAL DETAINEESPRISON SENTENCE NOT EXECUTED OR REPLACED BY COMMUNITY MEASURESEARLY RELEASE AND OPEN REGIME MEASURES (INCL. ELECTRONIC MONITORING)pardon
AfghanistanX
AlbanyXXX
ArgentinaXXX
AustraliaXXX
AustriaXXXX
BahrainXX
BelgiumXX
BélizeX
BoliviaX
BrazilX
BulgaryX
Burk. FasoXX
CanadaXXXX
ChileX
ColombiaXX
CyprusXX
Czech Rep.XXX
DenmarkXXXX
EstoniaXXX
EthiopiaXX
FinlandXX
FranceXXXX
GeorgiaXXX
GhanaXX
GuyanaX
HondurasXX
Hong KongXX
HungaryXX
IndiaXXX
IndonesiaX
ItalyXX
IranX
IrelandXXX
IsraelXX
KenyaXXX
KosovoXXXX
LatviaX
LibyaXX
LithuaniaXX
Lux.X
MexicoX
MoldovaXXX
MoroccoXX
NetherlandsXXXXXX
NicaraguaX
N. ZealandXXX
NorwayXX
PakistanXXX
ParaguayX
PolandXXX
RomaniaXXX
RussiaX
RwandaXX
SlovakiaX
SomaliaX
SpainXXXX
SudanX
SwedenXXXX
TaiwanXX
Trinidad(TT)XX
TunisiaX
TurkeyX
UKXXXXX
US (Federal)XXX
UruguayX
VenezuelaX
ZimbabweX
Note: Some measures have been adopted by individual prisons or implemented only in certain areas of the country.

Detailed information

Here you can find detailed info about the measures summarized in the previous table. Countries are listed in alphabetical order. Info updated periodically.

Afghanistan

  • Afghanistan has announced the release of nearly 10,000 prisoners. The presidential decree is directed at women, young-offenders, critically ill patients and inmates aged over 55, and excludes those who have commited crimes against national and international security (Source: Geo News, 26/03/2020)

Albany

  • Family visits have been suspended (Source: Europris, 01/04/2020)
  • Additional telephonic calls have been provided (Source: Europris, 01/04/2020)
  • Temporary permission to final sentenced prisoners to stay at home for a period of three months. More than 500 hundred prisoners of final court decisions have benefited (Source: Europris, 01/04/2020)

Argentina

  • Control and limitation of family visits (Source: ICPA)
  • The use of videocalling is considered (Source: Página12, 28/03/2020)
  • Prison judges are considering the release of inmates who are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 (Source: La Gaceta, 18/03/2020)
  • Around 800 vulnerable inmates have been early released or released under house arrest or released (Fuente: La Nacion, 2/04/2020)

Australia

Austria

Bahrain

  • Pardon granted for 901 inmates (Source: AL-MONITOR, 13/03/2020)
  • 585 inmates will serve out the rest of their sentences in rehabilitation and training programs (Source: AL-MONITOR, 13/03/2020)

Belgium

  • Family visits have been suspended (Source: Europris, 26/03/2020)
  • Additional telephonic calls have been provided (Source: Europris, 26/03/2020)

Belize

Bolivia

  • Pardon granted for inmates older than 58 years and women older than 55 with one child or more (Fuente: Noticias por el Mundo, 09/04/2020)

Brazil

  • Temporary suspension of social visits for a period of fifteen days (Source: ICPA, 18/03/2020)

Bulgaria

  • Family visits have been suspended (Source: Europris, 24/03/2020)

Burkina Faso

  • Visits have been suspended (Source: Prison Insider, 19/03/2020)
  • 1,207 prisoners have received the presidential pardon. Prisoners were chosen on the basis of their advanced age, their state of health and the completion of half their sentence, excluding those convicted of organised crime or terrorism (Source: Daily Monitor, 03/04/2020)

Canada

Chile

  • The government is considering commute prison sentences for house arrest (Source: La tercera, 25/03/2020)

Colombia

  • Family visits have been suspended (Source, LaFM, 12/03/2020)
  • The government is considering the temporary release of 10.850 prisoners with minor offences. The inmates would be transferred to home confinement (Source: Daily Mail, 29/03/2020)

Cyprus

  • Family visits have been suspended (Source: Europris, 24/03/2020)
  • Additional telephonic calls have been provided (Source: Europris, 24/03/2020)

Czech Republic

  • Family visits have been suspended (Source: Europris, 18/03/2020)
  • Additional telephonic calls and other devices have been provided (Source: Europris, 18/03/2020)
  • Ministry of Justice communicates with courts – where it is possible, courts shall postpone commencement of custodial sentences (Source: Europris, 08/04/2020)

Denmark

  • Family visits have been suspended (Source: Europris, 25/03/2020)
  • Additional telephonic calls and other devices have been provided. (Source: Europris, 25/03/2020)
  • All prisoner’s leaves are cancelled (Source: Europris, 25/03/2020)
  • Sentences for new inmates and new electronic monitoring remain non executioned (Source: Europris, 25/03/2020)

Estonia

  • Suspension of family visits (Source: EuroPris,14/03/2020)
  • Prisoners in closed prisons are locked in cells and the daily one hour open air time is cancelled (Source: EuroPris, 16/03/2020)
  • Open prison prisoners are not allowed to leave prison (Source: EuroPris, 17/03/2020)

Ethiopia

  • Personal and legal visits to prisoners have been halted (Source: Ethiopian Monitor, 20/03/2020)
  • Pardon has been granted to more than 4,000 prisoners (Source: CNN, 27/03/2020)

Finland

  • Jail sentences less than six months have been postponed for 3 months (Source: Foreigner.fi, 19/03/2020).
  • Family visits have been limited (Source: Europris, 25/03/2020).
  • Additional telephonic calls and other devices have been provided (Source: Europris, 25/03/2020).

France

  • 5,000 inmates who are close to the end of their sentence and have good behaviour in prison will be released (non-serious offences) (Source: franceinfo, 23/03/2020)
  • The possibility of not executing short prison sentences is being considered (Source: franceinfo, 23/03/2020)
  • Family visits have been suspended (Source: Europris, 24/03/2020).
  • Additional telephonic calls and other devices have been provided (Source: Europris, 24/03/2020).
  • All treatment and religious activities have been cancelled. A limited number of inmates are allowed to work and do sport (Source: Europris, 24/03/2020).

Georgia

  • Family visits have been restricted (Source: Europris, 27/03/2020)
  • Adittional weekly free phone calls have been provided (Source: Europris, 27/03/2020)
  • Prison leaves have been restricted (Source: Europris, 27/03/2020)

Ghana

  • Prisoners visits limited to one person per week and prohibition of contact between the visitor and the prisoner (Source: ICPA)
  • Outside labour by prisoners has been suspended (Source: ICPA)
  • Discontinuation of religious and group visits to the prisons (Source: ICPA)
  • All court sittings and police transfer of remand prisoners have been suspended (Source: ICPA)

Guyana

  • Some prison inmates have already been released and others, including those who suffer from chronic illnesses, may soon be out (Source: Stabroek News, 07/04/2020).

Honduras

  • All visits have been suspended (Source: LaPrensa, 13/03/2020)
  • Inmates with early release measures can stay home (Source: La Prensa, 07/04/2020)

Hong Kong

  • All visitors need to follow preventive protocols. Suspension of in-centre rehabilitation activities rendering by NGOs (Source: ICPA, 18/03/2020)

Hungary

  • Family visits have been limited (Source: Europris, 08/04/2020)
  • Additional telephonic calls have been provided (Source: Europris, 08/04/2020)

India

  • Prisons across India are set to release at least 34,000 prisoners, both undertrials and convicts, on interim bail and emergency parole after the Supereme Court ordered all states to consider these forms of early release to reduce overcrowding (Source: The Print, 31/03/2020)
  • Prison visits have been suspended (Source: HindusianTimes, 08/04/2020)

Indonesia

  • Indonesia releases more than 5,500 inmates (Source: The Jakarta Post, 31/03/2020)

Ireland

  • Visits have been suspended (Source: Independent, 27/03/2020)
  • Telematic devices have been provided to contact with families (Source: Independent, 27/03/2020)
  • Irish Prison Service granted 200 prisoners early release (Source: Independent, 13/03/2020)

Israel

  • About 400 offenders (sentenced to less than 4 years of prison) will be early released. The early release consists on a 30-day house arrest prior to the definitive release. (Source: Jpost, 29/03/2020)
  • All visits are suspended (Source: ICPA)

Kenya

  • Suspension of all visits for 30 days (Source: Ministry of Health, 13/03/2020)
  • Kenya released about 4,800 prisoners after having their sentences and bail or bond terms revised by courts (Source: NBC, 02/04/2020)

Kosovo

  • Family visits have been suspended (Source: ICPA)
  • Additional telephonic calls and other devices have been provided (Source: ICPA)
  • Weekend leaves are cancelled (Source: ICPA)
  • Suspension of sentencing people who are already chronically ill (Source: ICPA)

Latvia

  • Visits have been suspended (Source: Europris, 20/03/2020)
  • Leaves for inmates in open regime have been cancelled, except to work (Source: Europris, 20/03/2020)

Libya

  • 466 prisoners in pretrial detention or that qualified for conditional release have been freed (Source: The North African Journal, 30/03/2020)

Lithuania

  • Visits have been suspended (Source: Europris, 19/03/2020)
  • Additional phone calls have been provided (Source: Europris, 19/03/2020)

Luxemburg

  • Visits have been suspended (Source: Europris, 24/03/2020)

Mexico

Moldova

  • Family visits have been suspended (Source: Europris, 23/03/2020)
  • Additional telephonic calls and other devices have been provided. (Source: Europris, 23/03/2020)
  • Prison treatment activities have been limited to reduce internal movement (Source: Europris, 23/03/2020)

Morocco

  • Number of visitors of individual detainees reduced to one person only, and the number of visits to one per month (Source: Morocco World News, 18/03/2020)
  • 5,645 prisoners will receive the royal pardon. They have been chosen attending criteria such as age, poor health, lenght of the sentence and good behavior while incarcerated (Source: El Faro de Ceuta, 05/04/2020)

The Netherlands

  • Activities in prisons are continued as much as possible, but in some prisons activities such as sports are cancelled or offered in smaller groups. The number of prison cells for multiple individuals has been reduced from 30% to 15%. Court visits are limited (Source: DJI, 2/04/2020).
  • All visits and leaves, youth prisons included, are suspended (Source: DJI, 2/04/2020).
  • Pretrial detention has not been suspended for categories of individuals, but some individuals successfully argued for release in court on an individual basis (e.g. health) (Source: DJI, 2/04/2020).
  • Prison sentences not executed for individuals who are expected to ‘self-report’ to prison and for those who are detained due to not paying fines or not completing a community sentence (Source: DJI, 2/04/2020).
  • Early release for individuals who are in a half-open institution and at the end of their sentence (Source: DJI, 2/04/2020).

New Zealand

Nicaragua

  • 1,700 prisoners have been released (Source: ICRC, 8/04/2020).

Norway

  • Visits have been suspended (Source: Europris, 23/03/2020)
  • Additional telephonic calls and other devices have been provided (Source: Europris, 23/03/2020)
  • The summons of persons to serve their sentences in prison has been suspended, as has the intake of convicted persons to prisons (Source: Europris, 23/03/2020)

Pakistan

  • Government allowed two months reduction in sentence in less heinous crimes (Source: ICPA)
  • All visits were restricted but the prison service provided online visits (Source: ICPA)

*For extensive information, check Justice Project Pakistan

Paraguay

  • All family visits have been suspended (Source: Infobae, 22/03/2020)

Poland

  • Visits have been suspended (Source: Europris, 19/03/2020)
  • Additional telephonic calls and other devices have been provided (Source: Europris, 19/03/2020)
  • The Penitentiary Service has kept prisoner transports and movements within the units to a minimum (Source: Europris, 06/04/2020)

Romania

  • Visits have been suspended (Source: Europris, 06/04/2020)
  • Additional telephonic calls and other devices have been provided (Source: Europris, 06/04/2020)
  • Prison leaves have been cancelled (Source: Europris, 06/04/2020)

Russia

  • Family and legal visits to pretrial detention centers have been suspendedurther notice (Source: Rapsi News, 31/03/2020)

Rwanda

  • Visits in prisons have been suspended until further notice (Source: allAfrica, 01/04/2020)
  • Prisons have set up a public telephone to ensure communication continues between inmates and their families (Source: allAfrica, 01/04/2020)

Slovakia

  • Family visits have been limited (Source: Europris, 20/03/2020)

Somalia

  • 148 prisoners sentenced for petty crimes have received the presidential pardon (Source: CGTN Africa, 02/04/2020)

Spain

Sudan

  • Sudan released 4.217 prisoners (Source: Defense Web, 26/03/2020)

Sweden

  • Family visits have been cancelled (Source: EuroPris, 23/03/2020)
  • Additional telephonic calls and other devices have been provided (Source: EuroPris, 23/03/2020)
  • All prison leaves are cancelled (Source: EuroPris, 23/03/2020)
  • Prisoners who are not incarcerated but have been sentenced to prison are denied of entering any prison or remand prison to start serving time (Source: EuroPris, 23/03/2020)

Taiwan

  • Suspension of all gatherings and activities (Source: Agency of Corrections, 09/04/2020)
  • All visits that imply direct contact among the prisoner and the visitor have been suspended (Source: Agency of Corrections, 09/04/2020)
  • More public telephone booths have been set up in order to allow prisoners keep in contact with their families and video visitation with prisoners is going to be enhanced (to date, 6 out of 51 correctional institutions in Taiwan allow videocalls with families using mobile phones or tablets from home) (Source: Agency of Corrections, 09/04/2020)

Trinidad & Tobago

  • All visits have been cancelled (Source: Looptt, 31/03/2020)
  • 388 low-risk prisoners have been targeted for release (Source: Stabroek News, 03/04/2020)

Tunisia

Turkey

  • Visits have been cancelled (Source: ICPA)
  • All referrals and transfers other than health and safety are postponed (Source: ICPA)

United Kingdom

  • Prison visits are temporarily suspended in England and Wales (GOV.UK, 24/03/2020), Scotland (Source: BBC, 24/03/2020) and Northern Ireland (Source: itv, 20/03/2020)
  • As a temporary measure, secure phone handsets will be given to prisoners at 55 prisons allowing risk-assessed prisoners to speak to a small number of pre-authorised contacts (Source: GOV.UK, 24/03/2020)
  • Up to 200 prisoners will be released early in Northern Ireland (Source: itv, 30/03/2020)
  • The usual regime in prisons has been paused temporarily to apply social distancing. Thus, prisoners can no longer take part in usual recreational activities such as using the gym, going to worship or visiting the library. Only essential workers such as kitchen staff or wing cleaners will continue with their jobs but people will still get paid (Source: GOV.UK, 31/03/2020)
  • 70 pregnant women and mothers will be early released (Source: Telegraph, 31/03/20)
  • Up to 3,500 prisoners who are within two months of their release date will be released on temporary licence in England and Wales. The measure does not apply to violent and sex offenders (Source: GOV.UK, 04/04/2020)

United States (Federal – Bureau of Prisons)

  • All visits (social, legal and volunteer visits) are suspended for 30 days (Source: Bureau of Prisons)
  • US Attorney General directed the federal Bureau of Prisons to expand its use of home confinement for inmates in appropriate cases (Source: NY Times, 26/03/2020)
  • Inmates will be confined to their cells for a two-week period, with exceptions for certain programs and services like mental health treatment and education (Source: CNN, 01/04/2020)

*For info by state, check UCLA Law database, CovidPrisonData or The Marshall Project

Uruguay

Venezuela

  • All family visits are suspended (Source:InSight Crime, 02/04/2020)

Zimbabwe

  • Presidential amnesty for 1,680 inmates (Source: Zimeye, 01/04/2020)

Thank you note

We want to express our gratitude to all the people that have shared information with us via Twitter and email for their help, and specially to those that have translated and/or sent the detailed information about their countries: Steven Y.H. Chen (Taiwan), Gwen van Eijk (The Netherlands), Sunita Sturup-Toft (UK), Philipp Hamedl (Austria), Adriano Martufi (Germany) & Jordi Enjuanes (Catalonia).