Irish Penal Reform Trust

Solitary Confinement

Since the commencement of the IPS Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners in July 2013, the number of prisoners on 22/23 hour restricted regime has decreased dramatically. However, IPRT is concerned about the length of time that individual prisoners are held in conditions which amount to solitary confinement. 

Considering the decrease in the number of people on restricted regimes in recent years, we believe that it is an achievable goal for solitary confinement to be abolished in Ireland.

IPRT acknowledges the difficult challenge for any prison service in balancing prisoner safety (respecting the right to life) on the one hand, while at the same time providing prisoners with a reasonable and humane regime (respecting rights such as the right to private and family life). However, when drawing this balance, it is IPRT’s position that the potential harm to prisoners’ mental health that can be caused by extended periods of isolation means that the practice of holding any category of prisoner on 22+ hour lock-up must only ever be an exceptional measure; that this cannot be a solution in itself to prisoner safety concerns; and that robust safeguards must be in place in relation to the use of such regimes.

In 2016, IPRT secured funding from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to pursue an evidence-based research and awareness campaign towards the abolition of the use of solitary confinement in Ireland. 'Behind the Door': Solitary Confinement in the Irish Penal System was published in February 2018.

For the latest IPS Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners, click here.

ECtHR: Detention conditions and treatment of prisoners

5th July 2019

The European Court of Human Rights has published a factsheet on detention conditions and treatment of prisoners outlines findings of inhuman and/or degrading treatment of prisoners.

Penal Reform International launch Global Prison Trends 2018

21st May 2019

Global Prison Trends 2019 is the fifth edition in PRI’s annual flagship Global Prison Trends series which identifies topical developments and challenges in criminal justice, and prison policy and practice.

Scotland: Mental Health and Wellbeing of Young People in Custody

21st May 2019

The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) has published a review identifying ways to improve the health and wellbeing of young people in custody.

Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners April 2019

10th May 2019

The Irish Prison Service Statistics Office has published the Census of Restricted Regimes for April 2019.

Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners July 2018

10th August 2018

The Irish Prison Service Statistics Office has published its Census of Restricted Regimes for July 2018.

Report on Penal Reform and Sentencing

10th May 2018

Many of the issues raised by IPRT during our hearing before the Committee are included in the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality report on Penal Reform and Sentencing.

Round Up: Abolishing Solitary Confinement in Ireland

3rd February 2018

This event took place on Friday 2 February 2018 from 11am in the Hilton Kilmainham.

'Behind the Door': Solitary Confinement in the Irish Penal System

2nd February 2018

This report contains 25 key recommendations centring on the use of solitary confinement and restricted regimes in Ireland.

Findings of Mountjoy Visiting Committee Report of serious concern

17th January 2018

The Irish Penal Reform Trust notes the publication of 14 reports from the visiting committees for each of Ireland’s prisons.

Census of Restricted Regime prisoners October 2017

27th November 2017

The October 2017 Census shows an increase in the total number of prisoners on restricted regimes.

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

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