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, an outbreak of COVID-19 in our prisons would have devastating consequences for the prison community.

This is an evolving situation, but you will be able to 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

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.

Northern Ireland: Parental contact allowed during prison visits

20th July 2021

The Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) has re-introduced contact between parents and children under 11. This follows the resumption of in-person prison visits in Northern Ireland on 4 May.

UK: HM Inspectorate of Prisons publishes Annual Report 2020-21

20th July 2021

HM Inspectorate of Prisons has released its annual report on prisons in England and Wales for the year 2020-21, covering the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief Inspector Charlie Taylor acknowledged that, for those living and working in prisons, this had been “a year like no other”.

Opportunities to improve outcomes for children with a parent in prison are being missed – IPRT

15th July 2021

MEDIA ADVISORY: New report on children and families with a family member in prison in Ireland highlights a number of significant gaps in their treatment.

Prison Chaplain Annual Reports 2020

5th July 2021

Common concerns were raised across these reports. These related primarily to COVID-19 and related restrictions, the numbers and treatment of people with mental health issues being held in prison, and insufficient staffing/resourcing of the Chaplaincy Service.

SPT issues follow-up advice relating to COVID-19

24th June 2021

The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) has published new advice to States parties and national preventive mechanisms relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vaccine roll-out in prisons must be met with easing of restrictions

14th June 2021

The Irish Prison Service confirmed to IPRT that mass vaccination commenced on a prison-wide basis on the week of 7th June and is expected to be completed in all 12 prisons within four weeks.

Urgent action needed on reform of prison complaints system, following third successive year of being classed as “unfit for purpose” by Inspector

11th June 2021

MEDIA ADVISORY: IPRT's response to the Office of the Inspector of Prisons Annual Report 2020. The Annual Report details a number of significant concerns about the current operation of the prison complaints system and repeats the view, similarly expressed in several previous reports, that the system is “unfit for purpose”.

Leaving no one behind? IPRT position on COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in prisons in Ireland

4th June 2021

Here, we summarise our concerns, as communicated to stakeholders, around delays in vaccine roll-out among prisoners.

The Irish Times: Just 2% of prisoners have been vaccinated to date

31st May 2021

IPRT has expressed dismay that men and women in prison appear to have been left behind in Ireland’s pandemic efforts.

Why people living and working in detention facilities should be included in national COVID-19 vaccination plans: advocacy brief

28th May 2021

Developed by WHO Health in Prisons Programme (HIPP), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Penal Reform International (PRI), this brief calls for the inclusion of people living and working in prisons in COVID-19 national vaccination plans.

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

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