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, COVID-19 could have devastating consequences for the prison community.

You can 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 (April 2020). Our updated submission, following a year of pandemic-related restrictions in prisons, is available here (April 2021).

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. If you have a family member in prison and are seeking support, there are services that can offer assistance here.

Publication of four further COVID-19 Thematic Inspection reports

29th April 2022

The final four reports on these Thematic Inspections were published on 28 April 2022, relating to Midlands Prison, Loughan House, Castlerea Prison and the Dóchas Centre.

Irish Penal Reform Trust notes areas of regression in the penal system over five years

7th February 2022

MEDIA ADVISORY: In publishing the fifth edition of PIPS, IPRT finds that the penal system – in some key areas of practice – has regressed over the last five years. We called for reforms in custodial sentencing policy so that prison is used as a last resort.

Interagency Group for a Fairer and Safer Ireland Annual Report 2020

23rd December 2021

The Interagency Group focuses on analysing the nature of the problems faced by people when released from custody and how better interagency cooperation could assist in their reintegration into the community. The fourth Annual Report outlines areas of progress and of concern, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Office of the Inspector of Prisons publishes COVID-19 Prison Staff Survey

21st December 2021

This prison staff survey complements the COVID-19 Thematic Inspections and focuses on the perspective of both staff working in and managing prisons.

IPRT response to the publication of four further COVID-19 Thematic Inspection reports

20th December 2021

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has welcomed the publication of the Office of the Inspector of Prisons’ COVID-19 Thematic Inspection reports. The reports are based on short visits by the Inspectorate to Arbour Hill Prison, Cork Prison, Portlaoise Prison and Shelton Abbey Open Centre.

High vaccination rate among prisoners in Ireland but the harsh impacts of COVID-19 restrictions in Irish prisons remain a concern

14th December 2021

The first international review exploring how prisoners and prison staff are included in national vaccination plans has found that Ireland performs well in terms of our prison vaccination rate when compared to many countries. However, this masks the reality that ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in Irish prisons are having a severely detrimental impact

PRI and HRI: COVID-19 vaccinations for prison populations and staff

14th December 2021

This report by Penal Reform International (PRI) and Harm Reduction International (HRI) details how prison populations and staff were included in national vaccination plans internationally, and maps the current roll-out of vaccines in prison worldwide.

RTÉ, Morning Ireland: COVID-19 outbreaks in prison

19th November 2021

Following news of the first prisoner death due to COVID-19 and several outbreaks in Irish prisons, IPRT Executive Director Fíona Ní Chinnéide spoke to Rachel English on Morning Ireland about IPRT’s core concerns.

IPRT statement on the first prisoner death due to COVID-19

17th November 2021

The Irish Prison Service has today confirmed the first prisoner death due to COVID-19.

UK: Covid-19 and the Criminal Law: House of Commons Justice Committee

24th September 2021

A new report from the House of Commons Justice Committee analyses the impact Covid-19 had on the criminal justice system in England and Wales, and in particular details the lessons that can be learned from how Covid offences were created and enforced during the pandemic.

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