33.2 – Food Norms for Prisoners [1974]

<< No 33 : 10 December 1974 >>

[1]  The food norms[1] in strict-regime corrective labour colonies are:

  • hospital norm (norm 5b) — 3,100 calories;
  • high calorie norm for heavy physical work (norm 2) — 2,800 calories;
  • special dietary norm for working prisoners (norm 5a) — 2,500;
  • the standard “guaranteed” norm (norm 1) — 2,450;
  • in cell-type premises, and in camp punishment prisons
    for prisoners being taken out to work (norm 9a) — 2,050;
  • and in camp prisons for prisoners
    not being taken out to work (norm 9b) — 1,350.

[2]  The food norms in Vladimir Prison are:

  • ordinary regime — 2,050 calories;
  • strict-regime — 1,950;
  • for the first month on strict regime — 1,350;
  • in punishment cells — 1,350 and 850, every other day
    (Hot food is given on alternate days. On days when cold food only is given,
    the diet is hot water, salt and 450 grams of bread.)

For comparison, the following are the average energy-consumption needs of a 30-year-old man, weighing 70 kilograms [154 lbs], at various levels of activity.

If, after 12 hours without food, this man lies down in a comfortable room-temperature of 20° to 22° centigrade, he expends between 1,700 and 1,800 calories per day. This loss of energy (the so-called ‘basal metabolism’) is used up mainly by the continuous functions of the organism which are needed to maintain life – the working of the heart and lung muscles, the maintenance of a constant body-temperature, and so on. This energy loss also helps keep the weight steady.

If, at the same temperature, the man gets up, eats regularly, but does not work, then, owing to the activity of the digestive tract and muscles, his energy requirements rise to between 2,100 and 2,400 calories per day. In a cold environment they are naturally much greater.

Examples of daily energy loss, given an eight-hour working day, are: 2,770 calories for a shoemaker, 3,190 for a joiner, 4,480 for a brick-layer, 5,200 for a wood-cutter or lumberjack, and up to 7,000 for a porter or stevedore.



[1]  For a systematic analysis of food norms and other major aspects of the theory and practice of the Soviet laws and regulations on imprisonment see the Amnesty International Report, Prisoners of Conscience in the USSR: their Treatment and Conditions, London, 1975.

This very thorough report is essential background reading for CCE 33 and for the sections in other issues of the Chronicle dealing with Soviet prisons, camps and psychiatric hospitals.