IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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New Sourcebook on Solitary Confinement released

28th May 2013

A new Sourcebook on Solitary Confinement is available for free online from Sharon Shalev and the Nuffield Foundation’s Access to Justice Programme. Providing a comprehensive, single point of reference on the subject, the Sourcebook details the adverse health effects, professional, ethical and human rights guidelines, and codes of practice relating to solitary confinement. Overall the Sourcebook mirrors the recommendations of the Istanbul Expert Statement on the Use and Effects of Solitary Confinement and aims to encourage policy makers and prison managers to put in place safeguards and mechanisms to limit use of the practice to very exceptional cases and only as a last resort.

The release of the Sourcebook throws into sharp relief recent Irish figures that reveal the use of 20-23 hour lock up for protection prisoners and others has been increasing in Ireland with grave consequences for the mental and physical health of prisoners. In March 2013, 193 prisoners were on 23-hour lock up; of these, 87 in Wheatfield Prison and 44 in St Patrick’s Institution (including 2 seventeen year old boys)(Source: Dail Questions, 19th March 2013).

IPRT’s position accords with the Sourcebook and UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez’s assertion that, with the exception of the death penalty, solitary confinement is the most extreme sanction which may be legally imposed on prisoners. It is not sustainable or acceptable that the main response to a threat of violence is to lock up threatened prisoners for 23 hours a day, with little or no access to work, education or training, exacerbating mental and physical health issues. 

Read more:

The Sourcebook on Solitary Confinement is available for free online at: http://www.solitaryconfinement.org/sourcebook

The Istanbul Statement on the Use and Effects of Solitary Confinement can be downloaded here: Download the Istanbul Statement 

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture report on Solitary Confinement can be downloaded here: Download the report on Solitary Confinement