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. IPRT is extremely concerned about the lengths of time that individual prisoners are held in conditions which amount to solitary confinement.
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.
In 2016, IPRT secured funding from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to pursue an evidence-based research and awareness campaign towards the abolition of the use of solitary confinement in Ireland, and finding alternative solutions.
For the latest IPS Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners, click here.