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.

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.

Irish Prisons and COVID-19: updates

27th March 2020

The Irish Prison Service has published information on its response to the Coronavirus COVID-19 risk on its website, including the suspension of family visits.

US: Fair and Just Prosecution publishes a joint statement from elected prosecutors on Covid-19 on the rights and needs of those in custody

23rd March 2020

The statement calls on the criminal justice system to act quickly to stop the spread of COVID-19 within the prisons. While there have been some official responses to the potential dangers of COVID-19 within US prisons, this statement contains further recommendations on how to reduce the prison population and safeguard prisoners’ rights.

World Health Organisation publishes guidance on preventing Covid-19 outbreak in prisons

23rd March 2020

The WHO has published an interim guidance document on preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention. The document aims to assist countries in developing plans in response to the international Covid-19 outbreak.

PRI briefing: ‘Coronavirus: Healthcare and human rights of people in prison’

18th March 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic may have serious implications for prisoners’ health and human rights. The PRI briefing summarises how prisons around the world have been dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak to date, and issues recommendations on how those responses could be improved.

IPRT statement on COVID-19 and Ireland's prison system

15th March 2020

COVID-19 is an unprecedented national public health situation for our communities and all society. This includes the 4,200 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.

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

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