6th April 2018
A number of reports on investigations into deaths occurring in prison custody in 2017 have recently been published by the Office of the Inspector of Prisons. The reports are available on the Office of the Inspector of Prisons website.
In a similar vein to 2016, IPRT notes from these reports that there is an ongoing demand for the use of compassionate release due to illness. This means that those in prison who are suffering from life-limiting medical issues can be released for end of life care in the community. This demand has not always been met by the Irish Prison Service, with many prisoners on Reviewable Temporary Release at the time of death.
Under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, in order to be considered ‘effective’, investigations into deaths in custody must be prompt so that any systemic failures that may have contributed to the death of a prisoner can be identified and addressed, and potential future deaths avoided. Although the investigations appear to be carried out in a timely manner, they are not published (in many instances) for over a year after the investigation.
The Acting Inspector of Prisons identified an issue with checks on deceased prisoners, in one instance saying that records were "incorrect and misleading". IPRT, following the sentiment of the Acting Inspector of Prisons, urges Irish Prison Service staff to treat official documents with care and to ensure that they are reflective of the truth.