While in prison, you must be provided with clothes and bedding appropriate for the season. This is important to keep you healthy and to ensure a socially acceptable appearance.

Therefore, the prison administration must ensure that you have at least the following minimum items:  

Clothes

The prison administration must ensure that you have proper clothing. If you don’t have your own clothes, the prison administration must provide them. You are also allowed to buy clothing in the prison shop.

Appropriate clothing

Your clothing must be appropriate. This means that it must fulfil two basic functions:

  • it has to be suitable for the climate
    Therefore, you must be given clothing which protects your health - keeps you warm in winter and is light enough for a hot summer. 
  • the clothing must ensure a socially acceptable appearance
    The provided clothes don’t have to be new, but they should be of an appropriate size and should not be dirty or overly worn. 

Type of clothing

According to Latvian law, the clothing that you are allowed to wear depends on the type, and the regime, of the prison in which you are in, but generally you are allowed to wear your personal clothing. 

exception In Latvia, persons serving a life sentence in the lowest (the strictest) sentence execution regime may be asked to wear a special type of clothing or a uniform. If you have to wear a uniform, it must not humiliate you and must not be a cause for discrimination.

example The uniforms should not show the length of your prison sentence or provide any information about the crime for which you are serving the sentence. 

When you are allowed to leave the prison or when you are taken outside, you should be allowed to wear your own clothing.

Cleanliness

You should have the opportunity to keep your clothes clean. According to the Internal Rules of Prisons your clothes should be washed at least once a month. 

Bedding

You must have a separate bed with sufficient and appropriate bedding. This means you must have all the items that a person needs for sleeping. According to Latvian law you must be given a mattress, pillow, blanket, pillowcase, sheet and a towel. 

The bedding must be:

  • appropriate for the climate
  • clean when issued
  • kept in good order
  • changed often enough to ensure its cleanliness 

According to the Internal Rules of Prisons bedding (except the mattress and pillow) must be changed at least once a week. 

What human rights violations may there be?

Prohibition against inhumane or degrading treatment

If you don’t have any bedding or clothes, or if they are inappropriate, this might lead to a violation of the prohibition against inhuman or degrading treatment. However, the effect that such a situation leaves on your physical and mental condition must reach a certain minimum level of severity. Minor deviations from the norm will not necessarily result in a human rights violation. 

example If you were not given a blanket or a pillow for a month, it would most probably result in a violation of your rights. However, if you didn’t have a pillowcase on your pillow for a couple of days, most likely this would not be a violation of your rights.  

Read more about how to evaluate whether your rights have been violated.

How to complain

If you believe that your rights have been violated, you should complain to the prison administration. Read more about how to complain.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education