IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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IPRT Briefing: Solitary Confinement, Isolation, Protection and Special Regimes

25th October 2016

On any given day in the Irish prison system, up to 80 prisoners are being held on 22- or 23-hour lock up for reasons of protection or other reasons, including discipline. This is a significant reduction on the numbers so held in July 2013, but IPRT remains extremely concerned about the lengths of time that individual prisoners are held in conditions which amount to solitary confinement. Data published in October 2016 found that 24 prisoners in Ireland have spent more than 100 days in solitary confinement, including 9 prisoners who have spent more than 1 year on 22+ hour lock up.

For the latest Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners, click here.

IPRT acknowledges the difficult challenge for any prison service in balancing prisoner safety (respecting the right to life) on the one hand, while at the same time providing prisoners with a reasonable and humane regime (respecting rights such as the right to private and family life). However, when drawing this balance, it is IPRT’s position that the potential harm to prisoners’ mental health that can be caused by extended periods of isolation means that the practice of holding any category of prisoner on 23-hour lock up must only ever be a temporary measure; that this cannot be a solution in itself to prisoner safety concerns; and that robust safeguards must be in place in relation to the use of such regimes.

This Briefing outlines IPRT's position on the over-reliance of the Irish prison system on restricted regimes, detailing the human rights standards which apply, and ten key recommendations.

Download the IPRT Briefing: Solitary Confinement, Isolation, Protection and Special Regimes (July 2013) here.