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. 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.

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.

Update on Midlands Prison outbreak

2nd November 2020

The Irish Prison Service has stated that following the completion of the mass testing of all prisoners in Midlands Prison, no further positive cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed amongst the prison population.

Prisoners test positive for Covid-19 in Midlands Prison

30th October 2020

The Irish Prison Service has today confirmed that five prisoners have tested positive for Covid-19 in Midlands Prison. IPRT notes the actions being taken and highlights the importance of maintaining access to healthcare, regimes, and family contact at this time.

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.

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



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