Pursuant to the Imprisonment Act of the Republic of Estonia, all prisoners less than 64 years of age, prisoners that are not engaged in studies, and prisoners without health-related contraindications are required to work. Working in prison constitutes a form of social work next to studying and participating in social programs. The principal objective is to generate a habit of working in prisoners so that they will cope better outside of prison and would refrain from perpetrating new offences.
In 2016, a total of 1,988 prisoners were employed in Estonian prisons. The bulk of such prisoners – 1,618 prisoners – are engaged in household work, 248 prisoners engage in production, and 362 prisoners are otherwise employed on contractual basis, including employment outside of prison by prisoners in open prison. Prisoners that were employed in a number of jobs were counted more than once here.
Prisoners are involved in household work to support the daily functions of the prison. Prisoners mostly engage in cleaning, ancillary work in the kitchen and distribution of meals, repairs, waste handling, laundry services, hairdresser/barber service, and ancillary work in the library.
In 2016, a total of 1,618 prisoners were engaged in household work: 803 in Tartu Prison; 618 in Viru Prison; 197 in Tallinn Prison.
In 2001, the state-owned company AS Eesti Vanglatööstus was founded so as to increase prisoner employment, improve product competitiveness, and cut costs for prisons. AS Eesti Vanglatööstus makes products using metal, wood, and fabric. Prisoners are also engaged in sewing, doing laundry, making furniture, and painting. 248 prisoners were engaged in the industry in 2016.