What is Bosnian prison like?

Bosnia prison is something you do not want to experience in your life. We will examine what life is like in prison.

Committed a crime or accused of a crime in Bosnia? Let us examine the state of Bosnian prison and what you can expect. 

How many prisons and prisoners are there?

There is an estimated 1300 prisoners in 8 facilities in Bosnia. The majority of prisoners can be found in the largest prison in Zenica that houses roughly 800. 

How many Criminals are there in Bosnia?

The Bosnian statistical division reveals a lot about crime in Bosnia. This is the link to the 2018 report.  In 2017, there was 25,176 charges on criminal offenses.  11,450 or roughly half of these were brought to court and of these 10,530 of the perpetrators were found guilty.  93% of these convictions were against males.

38% of crimes were property crimes 

What are conditions like in prison?

The United Nations Committee against Torture completed a report in 2017 about treatment and conditions of prisoners in Bosnia.  In general the report found that prison conditions were generally considered sub-standard and sometimes life threatening.  In 2013 a Vice reporter did an in depth piece on prisons in Bosnia.  Guards in his article “receive a minimal amount of training and any instructional sessions they get while on the job are organized sporadically by NGOs”.  In essence the prison staff is untrained and does not have the facilities to deal with prisoners.

Prison Administration

The first item that causes concern about Bosnian prisons is they lose 10% of their prisoners paperwork.  The lack of training and a centralized computer system resulted in the prison losing 171 (of ~1300 prisoners) data holding them illegally.  Imagine checking into a hotel that forgets where they put 1 out of every 10 customers!!

Many questions about the conditions of Bosnian prisons cannot be answered due to the lack of data.  Many items were not reported such as incidents of violence, torture, and mistreatment.  The vice article reported that prisoner claim go uninvestigated and accusations are palmed off with the explanation that everything is being done for attention.  Their answer on torture was they could not come to an agreement on what is torture. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina had been trying for years to come to an agreement on the law on torture and to ensure that all victims of torture, including war time torture, were treated equally

ohchr report 2017 

Prison Violence

Bosnian prison facilities are very violent. Zenica the largest prison that houses roughly 800 prisoners reported the following cases of disciplinary offenses:

  • 2011: 226 convicts (fight, quarrel, racketeering)
  • 2012: 210 convicts (fight, quarrels, racketeering)
  • 2013: 56 convicts (fight, quarrels, racketeering)

One out of every four prisoners was disciplined for fighting.


Surprisingly only a handful of deaths have occured at detention facilities.  There are a few suicides but most are related to heart attacks and natural causes.  The only notable death was in 24 April 2011, a male detainee, 44 years old, a Serb, died due to suffocation with a piece of dry bread.  


Being a prisoner in Bosnia would not be a fun experience.It may be beneficial to hire a good lawyer or pay the hidden fees that so many judges require to get your “get out of jail free” card.   

The new East Sarajevo prison

Also of note is that Bosnia is trying to fix its prison system. There is a new prison in East Sarajevo with a capacity of 300 set to open soon

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