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.

In the news: IPRT response to briefing on cocooning prisoners

30th July 2020

A summary of IPRT's presence in the media following the publication of a briefing on the journals of people cocooning in Irish prisons. The project was a collaboration between this Office of the Inspector of Prisons and Maynooth University Department of Law.

Findings on ‘cocooning’ in prisons must be acted on now to protect mental health and dignity of men and women in prison – IPRT

29th July 2020

MEDIA ADVISORY: A briefing detailing the experiences of people cocooning in Irish prisons published today (29.07.2020) by the Office of the Inspector of Prisons demonstrates the need for enhanced prison oversight and the longer-term ineffectiveness of COVID-19 responses that rely on prolonged confinement in prisons.

Survey: Do/did you have a family member in prison in Ireland during COVID-19 restrictions?

24th July 2020

This survey aims to help the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) get a sense of how COVID-19 restrictions have impacted/are impacting families of prisoners in Ireland. The survey closes on Thursday 13th August 2020.

PRI: Preventing harm and human rights violations in criminal justice systems

14th July 2020

Penal Reform International’s (PRI) new briefing considers how criminal justice systems around the world are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it is impacting on people serving custodial and community sanctions. While measures can be introduced now to mitigate infection, the briefing points to the systemic and long-term reforms needed to prevent harm and rights violations in future.

CPT: COVID-19 follow-up statement

9th July 2020

The Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) issued a follow-up statement to its 'Statement of principles' from March, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CPT says that further steps are needed to reduce the numbers of people in detention.

PRILA: IPRT writes a guest article for ‘Ask an Expert’

26th June 2020

As part of a TCD Law School project, IPRT was kindly invited by PRILA to write a guest blog on the response to COVID-19 in prisons and our work on advocating for the protection of prisoners’ rights during the pandemic.

In the news: IPRT response to plans to recommence physical prison visits

24th June 2020

A summary of IPRT's presence in the media following the announcement of plans to gradually recommence physical visits to prisons in Ireland.

IPRT welcomes plans to recommence physical visits to prisons

23rd June 2020

MEDIA ADVISORY: IPRT has welcomed the publication of plans for the gradual reintroduction of physical family visits to prisons but notes that it is crucial that video visits are retained alongside physical visits.

‘Reopening prisons’: Easing of COVID-19 restriction measures

22nd June 2020

IPRT has gathered examples of prison administrations internationally who have eased or who are beginning to ease their COVID-19 restriction measures relating to in-person visiting.

Special SPACE I Report: Prisons and Prisoners in Europe in Pandemic Times

18th June 2020

The Council of Europe and the University of Lausanne launched this special SPACE I COVID-19 project in order to measure and better understand the impacts of the pandemic on the prison population in member states.

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

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