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'Behind the Door': Solitary Confinement in the Irish Penal System

2nd February 2018

The Irish Penal Reform Trust launched a major research study on the use of solitary confinement and restricted regimes in Ireland on Friday 2nd February 2017. 'Behind the Door': Solitary Confinement in the Irish Penal System was funded by an Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission grant scheme in 2016. The Executive Summary (incl recommendations) is available here.

This report contains 25 key recommendations centring on the use of solitary confinement and restricted regimes in Ireland. Our goal is ambitious but achievable – the abolition of solitary confinement in Ireland in the short term and the gradual elimination of the use of restricted regimes with the ultimate target of 12 hours out-of-cell time daily for all prisoners across the prison estate.

Some of the key recommendations arising from the report include: 

  • The placement in solitary confinement of adults with mental health difficulties or mental or physical disabilities should be prohibited.
  • Where a prisoner requests to be kept on protection for an extended period, this should be kept under constant review.
  • The Irish Prison Service should research and develop a range of initiatives to address violence in prisons. These may include, but should not be limited to, restorative justice approaches and weapons amnesties.
  •  Prisoners on protection or other restricted regimes should be provided with meaningful access to work, training and education, as well as other activities and services. As far as possible this should be in association with other prisoners.
  • The Irish Prison Service should regularly collect and publish data relating to the length of time prisoners spend on restricted regimes in all prisons.

The report was launched by the former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Professor Juan Méndez at the Hilton Kilmainham on Friday 2 February.

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