The purpose of serving a prison sentence is to enable prisoners to live in accordance with the law and social rules while respecting the dignity and while ensuring the human treatment of the person serving the prison sentence.
Imprisonment is carried out in prisons and penitentiaries, which are special constituent units of the ministry responsible for justice - the Prison and Probation Administration.
The Zagreb Diagnostic Center performs the medical, social, psychological, pedagogical and criminological processing of prisoners for the purpose of classifying them, adopting a proposal for an individual prison sentence program and proposing a penal body in which the prisoner will continue to serve his prison sentence.
The execution of imprisonment is also in the jurisdiction of the ministry competent for the affairs of the judiciary and the enforcement judge.
Refferal to serving a prison sentence
Referral to serving of a prison sentence is in the jurisdiction of the enforcement judge of the competent County court.
A person sentenced to a term of imprisonment of up to six months, or to whom the remainder of the sentence is up to six months, will be referred by a decision to serve a sentence of imprisonment in the prison closest to their place of residence.
A person sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than six months, or to whom the remainder of the sentence is more than six months, will be sent to the Diagnostic Center in Zagreb, where the medical, social, psychological, pedagogical and criminological assessment of prisoners is carried out.
The length of stay in the Center for Diagnostics in Zagreb is four weeks on average. Based on the assessment, the classification of prisoners is carried out, proposal of the individual programme of the enforcement of the prison sentence is tailored and a the proposal of a correctional institution in which the prisoner will serve their prison sentence is made.
The decision on the correctional institution (closed, semi-open or open conditions) in which a prisoner will continue to serve a prison sentence is made by the Head Office of the Prison and Probation Administration.
In prisons, visits to prisoners are organized in accordance with the Law on Execution of Imprisonment, the Rulebook on Benefits of Prisoners, the Prison House Rules, and the Daily Activities Schedule.
In prisons visits to persons serving a measure of remand custody (investigative prison) are organized in accordance with the Rulebook on the House Rules in Prisons for the Execution of Investigative Prison, and visits to prisoners in accordance with the Law on Execution of Imprisonment, the House Rules of Prison and the Schedule of Daily Activities.
Prisoners in the penitentiary may be visited by family members and other persons, with the approval of the prison manager, in accordance with the Law on Execution of Imprisonment.
Prisoners serving time in prison and law-offenders may be visited by family members and other persons, with the permission of the prison director.
Prisoners who have been held in custody (remand prison) and persons in misdemeanour detention may be visited only by persons with the approval of the investigating judge or the presiding judge.
Packages and money
Once a month and on holidays the prisoner has the right to receive a package of allowed items from their family members, and with the approval of the prison director also from other persons. Prisoners cannot receive money directly from visitors or in letters, but can receive and send it through a penitentiary or prison.
Allowed packages can be submitted during a visit or mailed. The package must be accompanied by a list of contents of the package, by type and quantity, and the name and surname of the prisoner to whom the package is intended.
If items that are not allowed to be received are found during the package inspection, they will be confiscated, with written confirmation.
You can find all other information relevant to persons serving their prison sentence - from protection of their rights, transfer to parole - in this brochure: Handbook for prisoners.
Serving prison sentence for foreign nationals in the Republic of Croatia
Pursuant (accordingly) to the Law on Execution of Imprisonment, foreign nationals, while serving their imprisonment, have equal rights with the rights of citizens of the Republic of Croatia who are serving their imprisonment sentence.
Foreign prisoners (Prisoners of foreign citizenship) in Croatia:
- who are serving a prison sentence
- in remand custody (investigative prison)
- who are sentenced to imprisonment in misdemeanour proceedings
- who are in the process of transfer
- who are in extradition custody for extradition
also have the right to correspond and speak with the diplomatic and consular representative of their country or the country which is protecting their rights.
Upon the admission of a foreign national prisoner to a correctional institution, the prison or the penitentiary immediately informs the competent Consular post through the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.
Treatment of prisoners
Pursuant to the Enforcement of the Prison Sentence Act, the purpose of enforcement of the prison sentence is, with human treatment and respect for the dignity of the person serving the sentence, to enable one for life in freedom in accordance with the law and social rules.
This definition implies that the imprisonment is based on a rehabilitative approach, which presumes the individualisation of the sentence through an Individual program of the enforcement of prison sentence and a series of specialized treatment programs for selected groups of prisoners.
Individual program of the enforcement of prison sentence is a set of pedagogic, occupational, health, psychological social and safety acts and measures appropriate to the characteristics and needs of a particular prisoner as well as to the type and possibilities of a prison or penitentiary.
Individual program of the enforcement of prison sentence contains:
- assessment of risks involved during the enforcement of the prison sentence, on which depends referral to penal institutions according to the security level (closed, semi-open, open regime)
- working ability, working habits, type of work and working conditions to which prisoner may be exposed
- educational level and need for education or training
- health status, need for medical treatment
- specialized forms of individual or group interventions
- inclusion in special treatment programs (for drug addicts, alcohol addicts, violent offenders, sexual offenders etc.), based on court order or on the decision of prison/penitentiary expert team
- the need for psychiatric or psychological assistance
- contents and forms of leisure-time activities (cultural and sports activities)
- contact with the outside world (correspondence, phone-calls, visits by family and others)
- program of preparation for release and post-release assistance
In broader terms, treatment includes all procedures directed at prisoners for the purpose of their resocialisation. Such procedures are referred to as general treatment programs, which relate to the work, education and organization of prisoners' leisure-time activities. General treatment programs are implemented in collaboration of treatment departments with departments for labour and vocational education, departments for security and health-care departments.
Special treatment programs include group and individual psychosocial treatment of prisoners and form the basis for rehabilitation and resocialization of prisoners. By addressing dynamic criminogenic factors, these programs create prerequisites for changes in behaviour, attitudes and values and thus directly influence the achievement of the purpose of serving a prison sentence.
Special treatment programs are as a rule implemented by treatment department experts (social workers, social pedagogues and psychologists), who carry out the programs in co-operation with other officers of the treatment departments and other departments (security departments, health-care departments).
Treatment programs for prisoners and juveniles
The Law on imprisonment is primarily rehabilitation oriented, and the individualization of the punishment is achieved through an individual programme of the enforcement of the prison sentence (hereinafter: sentence plan) that includes general and special treatment programs.
In penitentiaries and prisons, various activities are organized to assess the achievements of prisoners in each segment and evaluate the success of the implementation of the sentence plan.
General treatment programs are conducted through work engagement, organized leisure and prisoner training. General treatment programs apply to all prisoners.
Special treatment, educational and development programs
Special treatment programs are applied to specific groups of prisoners (drug addicts, alcohol addicts, violent offenders, sexual offenders, etc.) with the aim of reducing the risk of re-offending by moderating and eliminating dynamic criminogenic factors. They are assigned to prisoners and juveniles as part of the implementation of an individual sentence plan, depending on the assessment of their criminogenic risks and treatment needs.
In addition to special programs related to specific criminogenic factors, the Prison Administration also seeks to design those programs that are not aimed at correcting criminal behaviour but are offering prisoners the acquisition of various knowledge and skills, regardless of their criminogenic risks and needs. Such programs are aimed at solving specific problems or improving the quality of life and interpersonal relationships. They don’t need to be carried out continuously, but interested prisoners need to be able to participate in them, in accordance with their estimated needs.
The following specific prisoner treatment programs are currently being applied in prisons, penitentiaries and correctional facilities:
- treatment of drug addicts (structured program PORTOs - Prevention of Drug Recidivism through Training and Enhancement and program based on Modified Therapeutic Community ie. clubs of treated addicts),
- treatment of alcohol addicts (structured Basic program for treatment of persons with problems caused by alcohol consumption and program based on Modified Therapeutic Community ie. clubs of treated addicts)
- treatment of violent offenders (Aggression Replacement Training and NAS – Program of psychosocial treatment of violent offenders – including family violence)
- treatment of persons who committed sexual offenses (PRIKIP - Prevention of Recidivism and Control of Impulsive Behavior),
- treatment of offenders in traffic,
- Social skills training (JUS-TSV - Enhancing Internal Strength – Social Skills Training)
(educational and development program)
- Pilot program “Psychosocial treatment of gambling addicts” - developed in cooperation with the Prison and Probation Administration with the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences and NGO “Association for Creative Social Work”.
- Prisoner as Parent" (programme of education and development)
- "Driver – Safety Factor in Traffic” (programme of education and development)
Prisoners' work is one of the most important treatment procedures in achieving the purpose of serving a prison sentence or rehabilitating a prisoner and reducing recidivism.
Taking into account the health abilities, acquired knowledge and skills of prisoners, the performance of Individual program of the enforcement of prison sentence, security assessments, and a genuine interest in work engagement, an effort is made to deploy as many prisoners as possible, in accordance with the prison / penitentiary capacity.
The work of prisoners is mostly organized within workshops in penitentiaries and prisons, where they perform the work of wood and metal processing, catering, agriculture, maintenance, stone exploitation, and other. Prisoners in penitentiaries and prisons also carry out auxiliary technical tasks such as maintaining the cleanliness and tidiness of the penitentiary / prison premises, washing the vehicles, painting, auxiliary work in the laundry room, kitchen, warehouse, in prison workshop and other.
Pursuant to the Enforcement of the Prison Sentence Act, prisoners may be employed by another employer outside the penitentiary / prison, and the prisoner may also be allowed to continue pursuing his or her own economic and other activities. The jobs most often performed by prisoners outside the penitentiary / prison are auxiliary jobs in the sawmill, construction, landscaping, loading and unloading jobs, agricultural jobs and other.
Education of prisoners and juveniles
Literacy and education of prisoners and juveniles is an activity carried out within the framework of general treatment programs for prisoners and juveniles which enable better integration into society, increases employability and reduces the likelihood of recidivism.
While serving a prison sentence, prisoners are entitled to education. The type and form of the education will be determined by the individual programme of the enforcement of the prison sentence (hereinafter: sentence plan), and will depend on the prisoners' abilities and preferences, the length of the sentence and other circumstances relevant to the purpose of serving the sentence and the capacity of the penitentiary or prison.
The penitentiary or prison, in accordance with its capabilities, organizes basic and vocational education and also the acquisition of additional working skills of prisoners. The education is organized in the penitentiary, ie prison and outside the penitentiary or prison, in accordance with the general regulations.
The penitentiary, or prison, organizes primary education for for prisoners up to twenty-one years of life who do not have a completed primary school education. Literacy of illiterate prisoners is organized regardless of age.
After completing the education, or part of it, the prisoner is given a certificate from which it must not be evident that he has been educated in the penitentiary or prison.
A prisoner may be allowed to acquire a higher level of education at their own expense if the education program can be aligned with security reasons.
Prisoners are provided with various free time activities within their interests, in line with objective possibilities of penitentiaries and prisons, which relate to sports, recreational and cultural contents and creative expression.
The penitentiaries and prisons organize various workshops with free-time activities that show their results through exhibitions, concerts, performances, sports tournaments, etc.
The Regulation on Prisoners' Benefits provide for the possibility of self-organizing free time (hobby) at their own expense. The prison director may authorize the prisoner to enter the things necessary for some specific free time activity (books, musical instrument, painting accessories and colors, etc.). Pursuant to the legal provisions, a Committee for free-time is established in the correctional institutions as a representative body of the prison community, which, under the direction of the official person, makes proposals for better organization of the prisoners' free time.
Pastoral care and religion
Prisoners and juveniles have the right to worship by using their own religious literature and items for religious use, and they also have the right to contact a religious official of their religious community.
Pastoral care and worship for the most represented religious communities is governed by the agreements on religious services that individual religious communities sign with the Government of the Republic of Croatia on the basis of international treaties and the Law on Imprisonment. In the case of other religious communities (registered in the register of religious communities kept by the Ministry of Administration), the interested prisoner or juvenile may be contacted by a representative appointed by the religious community.
On the occasion of great Catholic holidays and other holidays of other faiths, particular attention is paid to the religious needs of prisoners and juveniles, and holy masses and spiritual meetings are organized, often led by prominent ecclesiastical believers.