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... about the period of imprisonment.

Imprisonment means a change in your previous life situation, which comes with many questions. We have tried to address some important points that a period of imprisonment brings with it.

Social Code Book II Benefits

Prisoners who are stationary accommodated or who are in a penal institution (imprisonment, disciplinary detention etc.) ARE NOT entitled to benefits under the Social Code II (Hartz IV).

This also applies to:

  • penalty of imprisonment as a substitute of a fine (default imprisonment)
  • youth penalties, including long-term detention
  • coercive imprisonment
  • detention in a psychiatric hospital and in a detoxification Ccentre for alcoholics or drug addicts (Maßregelvollzug)
  • remand detention


You are entitled to benefits of the Social Code in the event of:

  • an interruption of prison sentence (judgement of 26.02.2019, Note: L 11 as 474/17, BeckRS 2019, 3266),
  • a leave from custody, or
  • a detention in a psychiatric hospital and in a detoxification centre for alcoholics or drug addicts (Maßregelvollzug).

Admisson (First Time in a Penal Institution)

The following steps are performed during admission to a penal institution, which may vary depending on the institution, but are similar:

  • formal admission such as personal details
  • search the person
  • dispensing of private belongings
    • after an examination they are collected in a chamber
    • prisoners are allowed to wear their own clothes
  • handing over institutional items such as clothing, bed linen, tableware and hygiene articles
  • examination of the health condition by the medical service of the penal institution
    • this also includes testing fitness for punishment, fitness for work, and any health concerns
    • medications or drug substitutes may be given, depending on the need
  •  initial conversation with a judicial officer
    • clarification on their rights and obligations
  • escort to the detention room
  • receive food for the day


You spend the initial period in admission, you will move only when everything has been completed and after a certain period of familiarization.


Prisoners are allowed to be visited. The visiting times in Saxony-Anhalt are:

  • 1 hour per month in general  
    • juvenile relatives are allowed to visit 2 hours per month
  • untried prisoners are allowed a visit of 2 hours per month
  • juvenile prisoners are allowed a visit of 4 hours per month
  • prisoners of the open prison are allowed to be visited daily


In general, you have to adhere the visiting times of the penal institution.


Before each visit, you must make a specific appointment with the penal institution, preferably by telephone with the visits booking office. You can find the telephone numbers on the internet.


For the first visit you must precede an application, preferably 4 weeks in advance. Subsequent visits can then be agreed orally with the penal institution.  


The visits booking office will give you comprehensive information on how to make a visit and what you may bring along.


Appointments and applications can also be made by the prisoner in the penal institution.


In the case of untried prisoners, the custodial judges or public prosecution office decides on requests for visits.


Visits with children usually take place at specific times. Children under the age of 14 must visit with an adult companion. For children there is a wonderful online explanation from the German Caritas Association for visiting:


Visitors must arrive at the penal institution sober and 15 minutes before their visit.


The number of visitors must be agreed in advance with the visits booking office of the penal institution.


The visitor must present a valid identification document at the gate. The document is collected at the gate, and they receive a visitor card. Before leaving the penal institution, you get your ID back.


Before the visit, every person is checked for illicit subjects, e.g. alcohol, narcotics and weapons. The search is carried out with an electronic sensor and by palpating the body.


In every penal institution, mobile phones are prohibited and must be handed in at the gate with the ID.


As a visitor, it is forbidden to hand over any subjects (including money) to the prisoner. It is also prohibited to accept subjects from prisoners. Further information on the conduct, restrictions and prohibitions during the visit can be clarified with the respective visits booking office.


In summary:

  • visits have to be arranged in advance with the visits booking office by phone
  • an application has to be filed 4 weeks before the first visit
  • an ID document is necessary
  • arrive 15 minutes before the date at the penal institution
  • every visitor is checked
  • no subjects may be handed to or received from the prisoners
  • mobile phones are prohibited

Possession of Subjects

Your own detention room may be equipped to an appropriate extent.

The permitted items usually include:

  • family photos,
  • personal memorabilia,
  • basic religious writings,
  • religious objects,
  • radio,
  • TV,
  • books and magazines,
  • and other subjects for further training or leisure.


The subjects must be approved in advance by the penal institution and must not endanger the vision into the detention room, safety and order.


In principle, the sending and receiving of letters is unlimited. The prisoner pays the postage costs. The prisoner can obtain materials such as pen and paper from the penal institution on request.

In exceptional cases, correspondences can be prohibited or supervised by the penal institution. This may be due to a threat to security and order or to the objective of treatment.


Official letters, e.g. from lawyers, courts, criminal defences and other state institutions, are not monitored.

Unreadable letters, secret letters or letters in foreign language, if they are not clearly important, will not be forwarded.


The prisoner may also receive packages, as long as the penal institution allows it. You have to fill an application in advance. ‌The sender can contact the penal institution in advance by telephone or the prisoners can file a direct application.‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌

The package must not contain food and must comply with the penal institution content, timing and maximum quantities.

Subjects that could endanger safety and order are prohibited.


The contents are opened and examined in the presence of the prisoner.

Items the penal institution do not approve will be returned for a fee.


There are phone cards most of the time, but the prisoner must finance each call.

While prisoners are allowed to make phone calls, it does not constitute a legal right.


Telephone calls can be monitored, but this will be announced in advance.


Phone calls with the criminal defence must not be monitored in the same way as in correspondence.


The penal institution have to unlock the phone numbers you want to call.

Payments and Accounts in the Penal Institution



Prisoners are paid for their work.

The amount of the wage is divided into 5 levels and depends on the work done.


Prisoners who are in free employment usually receive the standard wage, but they have to pay a contribution to detention costs to the penal institution. This is usually the case when one is in the open prison.

Trainee's Grant

When a prisoner takes part in training or education, he or she usually receives trainee's grant.

The amount of the trainee's grant allowance depends on the amount of the resulting loss of wages. This usually corresponds to wage level 3.

Pocket Money

The penal institution is relevant for the subsistence of prisoners.

If a person does not receive a wage or trainee's grant through no fault of his own, they may submit an application for pocket money.


This is then paid out by the penal institution. The amount of the pocket money is 14% of the current basic remuneration.

In prison, this pocket money is credited to the spending account of the prisoners.


House Money

The house money is available for purchase within the penal institution or for further expenses. It consists of / includes pocket money, trainee's grant and wage.

The penal institution may limit the disposal of the house money for prisoners as a disciplinary action.


The house money is exempt from attachment, but if it exceeds a certain amount, it can be used to cover ongoing court costs or cover damages caused by gross negligence on the part of third-party property.

Tide-over Money

The part of the wage or trainee's grant that is not used for the house money is saved for the tide‑over money.

This tide-over money is intended to finance the life of the prisoner in the first four weeks after release from prison. The amount of tide-over money, also known as the ‘bridge’, varies from prisoner to prisoner.


Tide-over money can also be used before release for so-called rehabilitation.


If the prisoner was not working in prison, the financial bridge can be obtained from other sources, such as the money brought at the commencement of imprisonment.


The tide-over money cannot be attached unless there are maintenance claims against other persons under the Code of


Civil Procedure. However, sufficient funding must be available for the ex-prisoner to finance the first four weeks after release.


The tide-over money will be paid out in cash after release from prison.

Prisoners own Money

The prisoner's own money includes all remaining money that does not go into the house money or tide-over money.

As soon as sufficient tide-over money has been saved, the remaining money can technically be used freely. If the own money does not exactly serve the purpose of increasing the tide-over money, it can however be attached.


However, it can only be used for purchasing in the penal institution if no house money or pocket money is available through no fault of its own.

Work and Training

In principle, all prisoners are subject to a duty of work.

Prisoners over the age of 65, pregnant women and nursing mothers are excluded.


If a prisoner refuses to work, disciplinary action, such as a pocket money lock, may be taken.


The work in the penal institution is divided into the work in enterprises (cooperation with other companies and sale of the goods) and in-house enterprises (work for the penal institution, e.g. gardening and laundry).


The work is paid with a wage. Different activities are paid differently.


Untried prisoners receive the same pay as prisoners when they work during remand detention.


Furthermore, there are also basic training and further training measures, as well as vocational and school education measures. All kinds of school qualifications can be obtained. Courses like language courses can also be attended. The trainee's grant is normally paid.

Recreational Activities

Prisoners have the right to engage in individual activities in their free time.

They can use the library of the penal institution and participate in distance learning.


They can play football and table tennis, do fitness, cook, make music, paint and do handicrafts. For this purpose, they have various spaces available, such as football pitches, fitness rooms and sports facilities.


In addition to that, staff sometimes offer workshops outside of the prison context.


Within the context of prisoner support, the prisoner has access to debt advice, addiction counselling, individual and group consultation, career counselling and counselling to reconstruct and discuss the offence.


One must apply for participation in recreational activities.

Social Therapy

Social therapy is a psychological-therapeutic programme that aims to address symptoms and change behaviour.

This social therapy is carried out in a separate department of the penal institution and thus is a special type of imprisonment.


Therefore, the prisoner learns social skills and competences in social therapy in order to be able to live crime-free in the future.

Social therapy is for:

  • prisoners of all offence categories who are not mentally ill but show disorders in their personality development and social behaviour,
  • prisoners in need of special, scientifically recognised social and psychotherapeutic treatment and
  • prisoners who are willing and able to undergo therapy.

Social Insurance ( Statutory Pension Insurance)

If a prisoner is working in prison, he or she is insured for unemployment.

An entitlement to unemployment benefit I (ALG I) exists after release from prison after a working period of 12 months (365 days) within a 30-month period.


However, no contributions to pension and long-term care insurance are paid and are thus missing for the later pension claim. If the person is already of pensionable age during imprisonment, he or she can receive a basic security benefit in old age and in the case of reduced earning capacity, i.e. the basic pension. The requirement is to have reached the appropriate retirement age, to have a reduced earning capacity and to have paid into the statutory pension insurance for an appropriate period of time.


A person can apply for reduced earning capacity at the Social Welfare Office (Sozialamt) if he or she is not able to work for at least three hours a day due to health reasons.


Every person has the right to pay into the pension fund on his or her own.


Everyone can find out more about this at the Deutsche Rentenversicherung (German Pension Insurance).


If the prisoner has already received a pension before the prison term, he or she will continue to receive it during the prison term. It can also be assessed whether there is an entitlement to care benefits or health benefits for officials with high risk duties (Heilfürsorge). 


No health insurance or long-term care insurance is provided during imprisonment; the costs of treatment and medical care are covered by the penal institution, as are the costs of visits to doctors outside the penal institution.


For prisoners on work release in open prison with free employment, the same rules apply to social security as for non-prison employees.

Short Leave and relaxatiom of Conditions of Imprisonment

Prisoners can be granted relaxation of conditions of imprisonment. These include outside work, work release, short leave under escort and regular short leave. No minimum time of the penalty of imprisonment is required for this.

Prisoners can also be granted relaxation of conditions of imprisonment for particular reasons, such as court appointments or doctor's appointments.

The minimum requirements for relaxations are:

  • no existing risk of addiction or flight,
  • no further pending preliminary investigation or criminal proceedings
  • and no concerns about misuse of the relaxation of conditions of imprisonment to commit new offences.


Outside Work:

In the case of outside work, the prisoner may carry out regular work outside the penal institution under the supervision of a prison officer.


Work Release:

During work release, the prisoner may carry out regular work outside the penal institution without supervision, with random work visits by prison staff.


Short Leave:

The prisoner may leave the penal institution either for more than one day or on an hourly basis for a certain period of time. The short leave is allowed either unaccompanied or accompanied by an approved person.


Leave from Custody:

Leave from custody can be approved after 6 months in prison and only after the prisoner has proven his or her worth in previous relaxation of conditions of imprisonment. No more than 21 days of leave from custody are allowed to be exceeded in a calendar year. However, a longer leave from custody can be agreed upon as preparation for release from prison. You find the law under section 59 JVollzGB II LSA. For example, this leave from custody can be used to test out accommodation and/or special living arrangements.


to another Penal Institution

The prisoner has no legal right to a transfer. A change of institution can be applied for, but it is a decision of discretion.

A transfer can take place if

It supports the treatment:

  • transfer to a social therapeutic institution
  • if the requested institution provides more suitable therapeutic measures
  • if hospital treatment appears necessary 


It is conducive to rehabilitation after release:

  • a release is to be prepared
  • the desired institution offers more suitable vocational education and further training programmes
  • the other institution is closer to home
  • proximity to the spouse


Other reasons:

  • the chance of achieving the objective of treatment is more likely in another penal institution, e.g. through separation from accomplices
  • the penal institution is overcrowded or is to be closed down
  • the penal institution does not meet the requirement of humane accommodation
  • the prisoner can be accommodated more safely in another penal institution


Prisoners can be transferred to another country with the consent of the supervisory authority if all requirements are met and the competent authority of the other country agrees.

to Open Prison

A transfer to open prison can be possible under the following conditions:

  • Consent of the prisoner
  • Suitability of the prisoner for the open prison
  • No risk of escape or abuse for committing offences
  • Community ability
  • Good behaviour under little supervision


If, in contrast, the prisoner fulfils criteria to the contrary, a transfer to the open prison is not possible:

  • significant risk of flight or addiction
  • previous involvement in prisoner revolt (rebelling against rules and staff)
  • evidence that the prisoner committed offences during the last holiday/work release
  • deportation procedure, preliminary investigation, extradition or criminal proceedings are pending against the prisoner
  • the prisoner is likely to endanger the objective of treatment of the other prisoners
  • prisoners with enforceable expulsion order
  • prisoners in extradition proceedings, custody awaiting deportation or remand detention
  • prisoners who have been ordered by the court to undergo measures of reform and prevention or other types of placement
  • if premises, personnel or organisational reasons prevent the transfer (section 201 (1) Prison Act)


It is also possible that a person who has already been transferred from imprisonment to open prison is transferred back. This is possible if:

  • there are concrete indications for the suspicion of a renewed criminal offence during relaxation of conditions of imprisonment
  • negative behaviour observed in the open prison
  • treatment is necessary that is only possible in prison


For a transfer back, the competent authority needs concrete indications and is obliged to clarify the facts as far as possible.