The Tartu Prison will hold half its current number of inmates starting from July 1, which will cause 90 people to be laid off, head of the Estonian Prison Service Rait Kuuse said.
Several hundred prisoners will be moved to Tallinn, while the Tartu Prison will be guarding a little over 400 inmates after July 1. Tartu Prison will operate as a regional prison for Southern Estonia in the future, Kuuse said.
Ninety jobs will have to be cut, with only some employees offered jobs at Tallinn and Viru prisons. Kuuse said that the Prison Service is working with the Unemployment Insurance Fund and local employers to help people find work.
"It is a painful and difficult step, while it allows us to maintain the high level of the service," Kuuse said, adding that the move will help hike salaries for employees of the Tallinn and Viru prisons.
The number of prisoners has been falling rapidly in Estonia in recent years, dropping 10 percent in the last year for a historic low of 1,827. But Kuuse said there are no plans to close the Tartu or Viru prisons at this time.
Reorganization started at Tartu Prison because it is the oldest of Estonia's three prison complexes.
Tallinn Prison, as the most modern, will be used to hold the most dangerous prisoners and plans prescribe maintaining 70-75 percent capacity there.
In addition to the changes at Tartu Prison, prison medical services will be merged with the nationwide medical system, with healthcare organization in prisons moving into the hands of the Health Insurance Fund.
State company Eesti Vanglatööstus will be abolished and prison labor services taken over by a new center at Tallinn Prison.
Prisoners will also be given additional access to online service, such as the chance to video conference with loved ones and participate in online courses.
Editor: Marko Tooming, Marcus Turovski