IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Solitary Confinement

As of July 2017, the number of prisoners on 22 and 23-hour restricted regimes during the last census was 10 (23hr - 7, 22hr - 3) which represents a decrease of 34 (77%) on April 2017. 

Since July 2013, the number of prisoners on 22/23 hour restricted regime has decreased by 201 or 95% from 211 to 10. However, IPRT is concerned about the length of time that individual prisoners are held in conditions which amount to solitary confinement. 

Considering the decrease in the number of people on restricted regimes in recent years, we believe that it is an achievable goal for solitary confinement to be abolished in Ireland.

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 22+ 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 from July 2017, click here.

Stop Solitary for Kids Compile a List of Resources on US State Legislation and Cases 24th August 2017

Stop Solitary for Kids is a website that highlights developments in particular States within the United States of America (USA) that have passed legislation that aim to limit the use of solitary confinement for children in detention. Currently 18 out of the 51 States in the U.S.A have either developed… Read more

Juvenile Law Center Launch Report: Unlocking Youth Legal Strategies to End Solitary Confinement in Juvenile Facilities 2nd August 2017

The Juvenile Law Center in their latest report (2017) highlight the issues facing children and young adults in detention who are subjected to solitary confinement. In this report the authors address issues such as the impact solitary confinement can have on the cognitive, social and emotional development of those subjected… Read more

The Irish Prison Service Release 'Elimination of Solitary Confinement' Policy Document 31st July 2017

In July 2017, the Irish Prison Service issued a new policy document on the elimination of solitary confinement, incorporating Rules 44 and 45 of the UN Mandela Rules. Read more

Minister introduces Amendment to Prison Rules: “Meaningful Human Contact” 7th July 2017

On 29th June 2017, Minister for Justice and Equality, Charles Flanagan TD, introduced an amendment to Rule 27 (1) of the Prison Rules 2007 to 2017. Read more

National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) Guidance: Isolation in detention 10th February 2017

The NPM in the UK has published a report Isolation in detention (2017) that sets out clear guidance in relation to the practice of isolation in detention and prison settings. The guidance aims to ensure that those subjected to isolation are not adversely impacted by it. The guidelines set out… Read more

Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners January 2017 31st January 2017

The Irish Prison Service Statistics Office has recently published its quarterly census of Restricted Regime Prisoners in the Irish prison system. Read more

US: 'Caged In', Solitary Confinement’s devastating harm on prisoners with physical disabilities 13th January 2017

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has published a report on the particular negative effects that solitary confinement poses to prisoners with physical disabilities. Read more

IPRT welcomes Dáil debate on prolonged solitary confinement 1st December 2016

A Private Member’s Bill introduced by Clare Daly TD, the Prisons (Solitary Confinement) (Amendment) Bill 2016 was debated in the Dáil on 1st December 2016. IPRT strongly welcomes the attention that is being paid to this serious issue. Read more

Northern Ireland: Report finds 'detrimental' approach to care of vulnerable men at Maghaberry 29th November 2016

On 23rd November 2016, a range of inspectorial bodies published their joint report on an announced 'low impact' inspection of Maghaberrry Prison in September. The report details serious concerns regarding the treatment of vulnerable men within the prison, with a significant reference to extended periods of isolated detention as 'solitary… Read more

Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners October 2016 28th October 2016

The Irish Prison Service Statistics Office has recently published its quarterly census of Restricted Regime Prisoners in the Irish prison system. The result of the October 2016 survey shows that the number of prisoners on restricted regimes has increased by 22 in the overall figure compared to July 2016. Read more