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.
31st July 2017
In July 2017, the Irish Prison Service issued a new policy document on the elimination of solitary confinement, incorporating Rules 44 and 45 of the UN Mandela Rules.
7th July 2017
On 29th June 2017, Minister for Justice and Equality, Charles Flanagan TD, introduced an amendment to Rule 27 (1) of the Prison Rules 2007 to 2017.
10th February 2017
The NPM in the UK has published a report Isolation in detention (2017) that sets out clear guidance in relation to the practice of isolation in detention and prison settings. The guidance aims to ensure that those subjected to isolation are not adversely impacted by it. The guidelines set out specific standards which should be followed to minimise the effects of isolation on various groups of people including children in custody. Research shows significant differences between the impact of isolation on adults compared to children due to the cognitive development of children and their perceptions of time which differ from those of adults.
31st January 2017
The Irish Prison Service Statistics Office has recently published its quarterly census of Restricted Regime Prisoners in the Irish prison system.
13th January 2017
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has published a report on the particular negative effects that solitary confinement poses to prisoners with physical disabilities.
1st December 2016
A Private Member’s Bill introduced by Clare Daly TD, the Prisons (Solitary Confinement) (Amendment) Bill 2016 was debated in the Dáil on 1st December 2016. IPRT strongly welcomes the attention that is being paid to this serious issue.
30th November 2016
IPRT has 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.
29th November 2016
On 23rd November 2016, a range of inspectorial bodies published their joint report on an announced 'low impact' inspection of Maghaberrry Prison in September. The report details serious concerns regarding the treatment of vulnerable men within the prison, with a significant reference to extended periods of isolated detention as 'solitary confinement'.
28th October 2016
The Irish Prison Service Statistics Office has recently published its quarterly census of Restricted Regime Prisoners in the Irish prison system. The result of the October 2016 survey shows that the number of prisoners on restricted regimes has increased by 22 in the overall figure compared to July 2016.
24th October 2016
As of 1st January 2016, 51 people in Irish prisons were being held in solitary confinement for 22 hours a day, while 24 of these had been held in solitary confinement for more than 100 days, and 9 had been held for more than a year.