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.

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.

APT and ODIHR: Monitoring Places of Detention through the COVID-19 pandemic

4th June 2020

People detained prior to the pandemic have seen their rights restricted further and are exposed to greater health risks. This new practical guidance from the APT and ODIHR details how these who monitor places of detention can continue their monitoring functions during COVID-19.

COPE webinar: ‘Keeping children connected to a parent in prison in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond’

27th May 2020

This Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) webinar featured a series of insightful presentations, subsequent questions and discussion about the challenges that the pandemic presents for prisons, and in particular for prisoners and their families.

INCLO: Civil society response to COVID-19 in prisons

21st May 2020

IPRT Executive Director Fíona Ní Chinnéide presented at an International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) webinar on the impacts of COVID-19 in prisons in Ireland.

UK: Ending the Detention of Unsentenced Children during the COVID-19 Pandemic

18th May 2020

Custody is a damaging environment for children in normal times, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, conditions in custody have worsened for imprisoned children. The Howard League has produced guidance for legal practitioners on how to keep unsentenced children out of pre-trial detention.

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



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