Irish Penal Reform Trust

COVID-19 in Prisons

The COVID-19 crisis is an unprecedented national public health situation for our communities and all society. This includes the men and women currently detained in Irish prisons, the 3,300 people who work in our prisons, and the families of both prisoners and staff on the outside. Given the high number of older people (15% of sentenced prisoners), the higher prevalence of poor health among prison populations, and the existing burden on prison healthcare services, an outbreak of COVID-19 in our prisons would have devastating consequences for the prison community.

This is an evolving situation, but you will be able to find resources and international perspectives below, as well as statements from IPRT and updates on our work. IPRT's core submission on COVID-19 in Irish prisons, based on international evidence and standards, is available to read here

If you have questions about the work being undertaken in Irish prisons to control the spread of COVID-19, visit the Irish Prison Service website. Work being undertaken to control the spread of COVID-19 in Oberstown is detailed here. If you have a family member in prison and are seeking support, there are services that can offer assistance here.

Prison Officers Association ‘withdrawal of goodwill’

19th April 2021

IPRT does not take any position on labour relations issues. However, in light of our commitment to protecting the human rights of everyone in the penal system, we have serious concerns about the impact of the action on detained people and their families.

Irish Prisons and COVID-19: One Year On

12th April 2021

One year on from the imposition of COVID-19 restrictions, this IPRT briefing outlines what we have learned from the response to the pandemic and the steps that are now required in order to meet human rights obligations and address the effects of COVID-19 on people in prison and their families.

UK: A Record of Our Own - Lockdown Experiences of Ethnic Minority Prisoners

31st March 2021

This report by the Zahid Mubarek Trust (ZMT), in partnership with POPS and the Traveller Movement is an account of the challenges faced by minority ethnic prisoners in prison in England and Wales because of the lockdown measures employed by the prison authorities to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in prisons.

HIQA: Evidence for vaccination of those living or working in crowded conditions

31st March 2021

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published a report to inform the national policy on the allocation of COVID-19 vaccines to those aged 18-64 years living or working in crowded accommodation, where self-isolation and social distancing are difficult to maintain. This includes prisoners and prison staff.

Irish Examiner: Covid-19 has ‘compounded’ mental health issues for prisoners

19th March 2021

IPRT comment featured in reporting by the Irish Examiner on parliamentary questions relating to mental health and addiction services in prisons.

UK: The Impact of COVID-19 Prison Lockdowns on Children With a Parent in Prison

15th March 2021

A new report by Dr. Shona Minson at the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford draws on research undertaken during the first national lockdown and highlights issues faced by children whose parents were in prison during that time.

In the news: Vaccination of prisoners

9th March 2021

IPRT comment featured in print and broadcast media following confirmation from the Department of Health that all prisoners would be vaccinated as part of group nine in the Vaccine Allocation Strategy.

PRI: Why prioritising staff and prison populations for vaccination matters

18th February 2021

In a blog for Penal Reform International, Oxford University researchers consider why prison populations and staff should be prioritised in national vaccination programmes, what is happening internationally so far, and the challenges to their inclusion in some places.

UK: What Happens to Prisoners in a Pandemic

12th February 2021

This thematic review by HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) explores the effects of the restrictions introduced in prisons in England and Wales during 2020 in response to COVID-19.

Progress in the Penal System: Assessing progress during a pandemic (2020)

26th January 2021

The fourth edition of Progress in the Penal System necessarily took a different approach than in previous years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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