Irish Penal Reform Trust

Facts & Figures

  1. There are 3,849 people in prison custody in Ireland (July 2021).
  2. The rate of imprisonment in Ireland is approximately 76 per 100,000 of the general population (end of July 2021). 
  3. In 2020, the average cost of an “available, staffed prison space” was €80,445.
  4. The overall daily average number of prisoners in custody in 2020 was 3,824 compared to 3,971 in 2019, a decrease of 3.7%.
  5. In 2020 there were 2,420 prisoners committed under sentence serving sentences of less than 12 months.
  6. The majority of Irish prisoners have never sat a State exam and over half left school before the age of 15.
  7. The average number of females in custody in 2020 was 148, a 12.9% decrease on the 2019 average of 170.
  8. The daily average number of female offenders in custody rose by 29% in the ten year period between 2006 and 2016. 
  9. As of April 2021, there are 42 people in prison slopping out, without in-cell sanitation.
  10. As of April 2021, 1,634 (43%) prisoners were required to use the toilet in the presence of another prisoner.
  11. As of April 2021, 2,064 (55%) prisoners were accommodated in single cells.
  12. In 2020, there were 285 committals to prison for the non-payment of court-ordered fines, a (67%) decrease on the 2019 figure of 861.
  13. Committals under immigration decreased by 49.6% to 247 in 2020, from 490 in 2019.
  14. The number of sentenced committals for road and traffic offences decreased from 662 in 2019 to 384 in 2020.
  15. Prisoners are 23 times more likely to come from (and return to) a seriously deprived area, compared to the least deprived areas. (O'Donnell et al., 2007)
  16. In April 2021, of 743 restricted regime prisoners: 18 were Rule 62; 538 were Rule 63 (voluntary); 18 were Rule 63 (involuntary); 2 were Rule 64; and 167 prisoners were restricted due to COVID-19 infection control measures, Rule 103.
  17. As of April 2021, 136 prisoners held on a restricted regime were aged 18-24. [Published data does not indicate the proportion of these held due to COVID-19 infection control measures.]
  18. According to the April 2021 census of restricted regimes, there are 334 prisoners being held on 22+ hour lock-up. [Published data does not indicate the proportion of these held due to COVID-19 infection control measures.]
  19. Committals under sentence of less than 3 months decreased from 1,552 in 2019 to 781 in 2020.
  20. On 30 November 2020, 738 prisoners were on remand.
  21. As of July 2021, there were 506 sentenced prisoners aged 50+, 16% of all sentenced prisoners.
  22. Approximately one third (32%) of all persons committed to prison in 2020 declared Dublin as their county of residence.
  23. The number of people committed with a life sentence increased from 9 in 2019 to 12 in 2020.
  24. In 2011, over 70% of prisoners were unemployed on committal and a similar percentage self-report as not having any particular trade or occupation.
  25. From 1999 to 2019, average numbers in custody increased by 44% (2,763 to 3,971).

*Page last updated August 2021*

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

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