IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Solitary Confinement

As of  October 2017, the number of prisoners on 22 and 23-hour restricted regimes during the last census was 9 (23hr - 4, 22hr - 5) which represents a decrease of 1 (10%) on July 2017. 

Since July 2013, the number of prisoners on 22/23 hour restricted regime has decreased by 202 or 96% from 211 to 9. 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 an exceptional 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. This research is set to be published in early 2018.

For the latest IPS Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners from October 2017, click here.

Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners April 2016 30th April 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 April 2016 survey shows that the number of prisoners on restricted regimes has increased by 29 in the overall figure compared to January 2016. Read more

Solitary Confinement: what is it and what are its effects? 28th April 2016

The Guardian newspaper, in their series on solitary confinement, describe what it is; what the conditions are like; what its effects are; and provide an online virtual reality experience of life in solitary confinement so you can replicate the experience for yourself. Read more

Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners January 2016 31st January 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 April 2016 survey shows that the number of prisoners on restricted regimes has increased by 3 in the overall figure compared to January 2016. Read more

EUROPEAN TORTURE COMMITTEE: CONCERNS ON MENTAL HEALTH, VIOLENCE AND SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IN IRISH PRISONS 17th November 2015

The sixth report on places of detention in Ireland from the CPT, published today (Tuesday 17th November 2015) presents another indictment of a prison system that is struggling to meet its duty of care in terms of healthcare, mental health care, and ensuring prisoner safety. Read more

Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners October 2015 31st October 2015

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 2015 survey shows that the number of prisoners on restricted regimes decreased by 10 in the overall figure compared to July 2015. Read more

Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners April 2015 27th April 2015

The Irish Prison Service Statistics Office recently published its quarterly census of Restricted Prisoners in the Irish prison system. The census figures indicate a slight increase in the number of prisoners on restricted regimes. Read more

Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners July 2014 1st September 2014

The Irish Prison Services Statistics Unit recently published its quarterly Census of Restricted Prisoners in the Irish Penal system. The Census indicates a slight reduction in the number of prisoners on restricted regimes. Read more

Irish Examiner, 'Dramatic fall in jail isolation numbers' 1st November 2013

Cormac O'Keefe, writing in the Irish Examiner, reports on the drop in the number of prisoners held in solitary confinement since July. Read more

The Irish Times: 'The Prison Trap: mental strains of solitary confinement' 17th September 2013

An article from the excellent investigative series on mental health and prisons, 'The Prison Trap', which ran in the The Irish Times 14-17 Sept 2013. Read more

Roundup: Coverage of IPRT lecture on Solitary Confinement 6th August 2013

Media coverage of issues and concerns around 23-hour lock up and restrictive regimes, brought into focus by the 2013 IPRT Annual Lecture. Read more

Learn more