On 22nd Oct 2010, the Dept of Justice and Law Reform published a report by Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, on the use of 'special cells' in Irish prisons. Since taking up his position as Inspector of Prisons in January 2008, Judge Michael Reilly been concerned about this practice.
In the report, he states that "safety observation cells were not being used solely to accommodate prisoners who required frequent observation for medical reasons or because they were a danger to themselves. They were also being used for accommodation and management purposes."
The report clearly sets out:
- the characteristics that should apply to and be found in all safety observation cells
- the characteristics that should apply to and be found in all close supervision cells
- the obligations this country owes to prisoners who must be accommodated in 'special cells', with reference to national and international standards and legal obligations
- a comprehensive analysis of the use made of safety observation cells in each of our prisons covering a 15 month period
- guidance to the Irish Prison Service and prison management to ensure that proper use is being made of such cells and that appropriate records are kept
The Inspector of Prisons also reports that "prisoners on punishment were being accommodated in random cells meant for accommodation purposes but which were stripped of such things as television and other amenities", for which he could not find any record. The Inspector also reports on prisoners spending excessive periods of time in 'holding cells'.
Read the report here.