From Iceland — Prisoners Too Broke To Buy Food

Prisoners Too Broke To Buy Food

Published August 28, 2013

Prisoners in Kvennafangelsið in Kópavogur can hardly afford buying food the last few days of the month because their allowance is too low, according to one inmate’s relative.

“[The allowance] won’t last the week, they eat bread and left-overs for the last days of the month,” Gunnar Davíðsson told, but his foster son is serving time at the minimum security prison.

The prisoners get an allowance of 1.300 ISK per day to buy themselves food, which they need to cook themselves.
“One of them is quite good at cooking and he makes meals for the others,” Gunnar said and added that it pains him to know that his foster son is both hungry and idle, as there’s little or no work for the prisoners, which could otherwise help them supplement their allowances.

There are 12 prisoners at Kvennafangelsið (The Women’s Prison) which was initially meant for women prisoners but only one of the prisoners now is female. It is used for non-violent prisoners who have received relatively short sentences.

Gunnar said that at one point, a prisoner’s relative was so appalled at how little food they had at the prison that he had sent them frozen fish fillets.

Páll Winkel, Director-General of Prison and Probation Administration, pointed out that his administration had suffered cutbacks like everybody else and that it had taken on a cut of 24% since the economy crash in 2008.

“But the work problem is ongoing, prison directors have done their utmost to find work for the prisoners. There’s plenty of work at Litla-Hraun (maximum-security detention centre in South-Iceland) but less work in the Reykjavík area,” Páll told

He said there have been complaints about the allowances and that the administration is doing everything it can to meet the prisoners’ needs.

Doing Time in Iceland

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!