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.

Managing outbreaks of highly contagious diseases in prisons: a systematic review

23rd November 2020

Researchers in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford have conducted a systematic review on managing outbreaks of highly contagious diseases in prisons. The results of the research suggest that people in prison should be among the first groups to receive any COVID-19 vaccine to protect against infection and to prevent further spread of the disease.

Crest: Prisons and Covid-19 – what went right?

18th November 2020

Professor Nick Hardwick examines for Crest how successful attempts to manage COVID-19 infections in prisons during the first lockdown could help to inform some of the critical decision-making needed in the event of future lockdowns.

CoE: An evaluation of the medium-term impact of COVID-19 on prison populations

10th November 2020

This Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics (SPACE) study analyses trends in European prison populations during 2020, observing trends as they relate to the pandemic.

Increased duration of physical prison visits

28th September 2020

During the pandemic, IPRT has requested that the Irish Prison Service increase the length of physical visits from 15 minutes. We are pleased to note that visits have been increased to 20 minutes. This is a positive step in the right direction.

Joint Committee on Human Rights: Government’s response to COVID-19

21st September 2020

Joint Committee on Human Rights today published the report of their enquiry into the human rights implications of the UK Government’s response to COVID-19.

Independence of prison inspections must be supported in legislation and resourcing – IPRT

15th September 2020

MEDIA ADVISORY: The Irish Penal Reform Trust has welcomed the launch of ‘Inspection Framework for Prisons in Ireland’ by the Minister for Justice Ms Helen McEntee TD, but called for increased resourcing of the Office of the Inspector of Prisons, and for laws that allow the Inspector of Prisons to publish reports directly and not through the Minister for Justice.

“I am worried about the lasting impact this will have”: The experiences of people with a family member in prison during COVID-19

10th September 2020

IPRT conducted a small-scale survey of people with a family member in prison in Ireland during COVID-19 restrictions in late July/early August. We hope the results of this survey will go some way towards raising awareness of the issues faced by children and families with a relative in prison among the public.

IPRT Submission to Oireachtas Special Committee on COVID-19 Response

9th September 2020

IPRT was invited by the Oireachtas Special Committee on COVID-19 Response to make a submission on how the State's legislative framework contributed to the response to COVID-19 and how the legislative framework might be improved upon.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Irish prisons

28th August 2020

Early last week, the first confirmed prisoner case of COVID-19 in Ireland was reported. Today, another case has been announced.

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.

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



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