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Prison Service 2013 Summary



Number of prisoners and probationers

While in previous years the number of prisoners has gone down, the number of prisoners held in prisons and houses of detention increased by 46 in 2016: at the beginning of the year there were a total of 2,795 prisoners; by the end of the year the corresponding figure was 2,841. The number of convicted offenders increased by 205 in 2016 and the number of persons in custody dropped by 159. Probationer numbers continued to drop: while at the beginning of the year there were 4,853 probationers, this number was 4,240 by the end of the year.

As of the New Year, probation supervision governed 106 probationers under electronic surveillance (the corresponding number during the last New Year was 129). In 2016, 276 probationers assigned to electronic surveillance were registered under probation supervision.

Activities of prisoners and probationers

681 prisoners (741 in 2015), 925 (949 in 2015) probationers, and 42 (36 in 2015) persons in custody successfully completed a social program. Much like previous years, the highest number of participants were involved in the social programs of ʺLifestyle trainingʺ (completed by 675 persons – 711 in 2015), ʺThe right momentʺ (completed by 267 persons – 272 in 2015), and ʺTraffic safety programʺ (completed by 214 persons – 207 in 2015).

The number of prisoners that successfully completed the national language proficiency course dropped from 446 to 306 in 2016. Likewise, the number of prisoners studying in general education schools has decreased somewhat. At the beginning of the 2016/2017 academic year, 117 prisoners (124 in 2015) were studying in basic school, and 79 prisoners (76 in 2015) in upper secondary school. 113 prisoners (223 in 2015) commenced studies at a vocational school. 1,618 prisoners (1,709 in 2015) participated in prison-based ancillary work in prison (cleaning, kitchen work, distribution of meals, secondary waste sorting). 248 prisoners (288 in 2015) were employed at a plant of AS Eesti Vanglatööstus and 362 prisoners held in open prison (446 in 2015) were employed at other companies.

Prison offences and criminal proceedings

In 2016, the Prison Service instituted 219 criminal proceedings – 28 fewer than during the year before last. As in 2015, no murders, manslaughters, or attempted manslaughters were committed in prison. Two criminal matters were opened 2016 in suspected rape attempts; both cases were closed later as the suspected criminal offences were not proven.

No escapes from closed prisons took place in 2016. On January 4, a prisoner escaped the supervision of a Viru Prison escort team; the prisoner was captured by prison officers on the same day.


In 2016, 6 prisoners (4 in 2015) died during prison-based imprisonment or in a hospital. Of above, 5 prisoners died as a result of a serious illness or health disorder.

One suicide occurred in 2016 (none in 2015).


In 2016, prisons and the Department of Prisons were granted permission on 26 occasions (16 in 2015) to perform surveillance activities. The permits were granted for the purpose of wiretapping or covert observation of messages or other information transmitted by the public electronic communications network or communicated by any other means, and covert surveillance of persons, things or areas.

Furthermore, based on 71 permits (likewise 71 in 2015) issued by the prosecutor’s office, information was collected on the fact, duration, method, format, and transmitter of messages transmitted by the public electronic communications network as well as on the personal particulars and location of recipients of the above messages.


On December 31, 2016 the Prison Service (prisons and the Department of Prisons of the Ministry of Justice) employed 1,228.92 individuals, of them 691.57 in the position of Prison Officer. The year before, the Prison Service employed 1,379.6 individuals, of them 790.8 in the position of Prison Officer. Reduced staff numbers relate to the integration of Harku and Murru Prison into Tallinn Prison on June 1, 2016.

The percentage of positions filled by prison officers with professional education, i.e. correctional higher education or vocational education of a prison officer, and prison officers with equivalent education increased from 75% to 77% during 2016.

On December 31, 2016 probation supervision centers under Tallinn, Tartu, and Viru Prisons which are located outside of prison premises employed 163.2 officers (166.9 in 2015). During last year, three small probation supervision centers were closed in Aravete and Türi (their offices are now located at Paide Probation Supervision Center) and Antsla (office now located at Võru Probation Supervision Center). In Estonia, there are a total of 32 probation supervision centers as part of the composition of Tallinn, Tartu, and Viru Prisons: Tallinn (two locations), Maardu, Loksa, Keila, Pärnu, Kilingi-Nõmme, Lihula, Kuressaare, Haapsalu, Kärdla, Paide, Rapla, Märjamaa, Tartu, Elva, Alatskivi, Võru, Valga, Tõrva, Otepää, Põlva, Räpina, Jõgeva, Põltsamaa, Viljandi, Karksi-Nuia, Rakvere, Kiviõli, Jõhvi, Sillamäe, and Narva.