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.

Accelerated action must be taken to reduce prisoner numbers in order to uphold minimum human rights and keep people safe – IPRT

15th April 2020

ADVISORY: Efforts to reduce the prison population must be ramped up in order to uphold minimum human rights standards of those in custody and protect the wider prison community from COVID-19.

IPRT and COVID-19 in Irish prisons

7th April 2020

We're working hard, alongside other stakeholders, to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the prison community. In this post, we detail some of our actions and engagements from recent weeks.

Expert Report: COVID-19 and prisons in England and Wales

3rd April 2020

This Expert Report was written by Professor Richard Coker and commissioned by the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prison Reform Trust. It sets out the most up-to-date evidence concerning the nature, spread and transmission of COVID-19 as it applies to prisons.

Prisons and COVID-19: resources

1st April 2020

IPRT is curating useful resources and international guidance regarding COVID-19 and imprisonment here.

Human Rights Law Centre (Australia): Stopping Solitary Confinement

31st March 2020

The Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) in Australia has published 'Stopping Solitary Confinement', a submission to the Royal Commission into Violence, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. The HRLC writes specifically about the use of solitary confinement during COVID-19.

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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