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Prison leave

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In addition to short-term and long-term visits, convicted prisoners have the right to apply for a prison leave of up to 21 calendar days a year. Persons in custody do not have this right.

An application for prison leave may be filed by a prisoner who has served at least one year of their sentence (this requirement does not apply to prisoners in open prison). A prisoner who serves, for at least the second time, a sentence for an intentionally committed crime in the first degree must have actually served at least half of the term of the imposed sanction.

If a prisoner wishes to go on prison leave, they must file an application with the Head of Unit who will decide within one month whether permission therefor is granted. The Head of Unit has the right to refuse to allow a prisoner to go on prison leave.

The prison may grant permission to a prisoner for prison leave with the duration of up to seven days in the case of the terminal illness or death of the prisoner's spouse, father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, child, grandchild, adoptive parent, adoptive child, brother or sister, or in the case of other family emergencies. Whether or not an application for prison leave related to a family emergency is granted is decided within three working days as from receipt of relevant application.

Along with the prison leave application, the prisoner submits a prison leave plan, noting in it what they intend to do during the leave and how such activities are related to preparations for release from prison. In the case of prison leave related to a family emergency preparation of a prison leave plan is not necessary. After the return of the prisoner, the plan is reviewed jointly with relevant inspector/contact person and results of the leave are assessed.

A prisoner on permitted leave must, on the dates of arrival to and departure from their destination, register with the local police authority the address which is noted on the prison leave certificate. The prison leave certificate constitutes the identity document of the prisoner during prison leave.

Prisoners must return from prison leave on time and sober. If a prisoner is unable to return to prison by the agreed time due to a good reason beyond the prisoner’s control (e.g. illness), they must immediately notify the prison’s duty officer and at a later time submit documents proving the facts and circumstances of their delayed return.

All costs of prison leave are borne by the prisoner. The time spent outside of prison is included in the term of punishment.

Prisoners serving a life sentence and prisoners who are likely to attempt escape cannot apply for prison leave.

Prison leave is regulated by § 32 and § 321 of the Republic of Estonia Imprisonment Act and § 78 – § 89 of the November 30, 2000 regulation No. 72 of the Minister of Justice ʺInternal prison rulesʺ. Both pieces of legislation are available in the electronic version of the State Gazette (Riigi Teataja; The Imprisonment Act in Estonian and English, and the regulation in Estonian only).