Irish Penal Reform Trust

Deaths in Prison Custody: Information for Families & Others Affected

29th June 2012

It is a very distressing time when a family member or loved one dies in prison. Quite apart from the upset caused by any death, families and friends of prisoners sometimes feel that they don’t know where to get the information they would like to have at a time that is both sad and stressful.

Deaths in Prison Custody: Information for Families & Others Affected has been designed by IPRT to provide some information about what may happen after a person dies in prison and what the law requires in these circumstances. It also includes details of organisations you can contact if you would like further information and/or assistance in dealing with this time of grief.

How to use the booklet

This booklet aims to help you to understand what the law says about when a person dies in prison. It is a summary of some legal rules and decisions of the Courts. This booklet does not and should not replace legal advice for your own particular situation. IPRT cannot advise you on your individual situation or on the law.

Download a copy of the booklet here: Deaths in Prison Custody: Information for Families & Others Affected

The contents of the booklet include:

  1. Rights and duties
    • General Information
    • Ireland is under a duty to protect the right to life of prisoners
    • Ireland is under a duty to investigate deaths of prisoners
    • Who will be notified when a person dies in custody?
  2. Investigations into prison deaths
    • Why, and in what circumstances, did my family member/loved one die?
    • What is an inquest?
    • Investigations by the Inspector of Prisons
    • What about other kinds of investigations?
    • Does Ireland have an Ombudsman for Prisoners?
  3. Issues of Concern
    • Are there shortcomings in our current system for investigating deaths in prisons?
    • Changes to the investigation of deaths of prisoners: the role of the Inspector
  4. Questions you might have
    • What if I am not satisfied with the investigations which have taken place?
    • What if I have concerns about the role of the prison authorities in the death?
    • What practical help can I get when a person dies in prison?
    • How can I get a solicitor if I do not have one already?
    • I am a prisoner and I have been affected by the death of another person in prison
    • Where can I find out more?
  5. Contacts

If you would like us to send you a free copy of the Deaths in Prison Custody: Information for Families & Others Affected booklet, simply email or call: 01-874 1400

This booklet has been funded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences. It is part of a project between Dr Mary Rogan of the Dublin Institute of Technology and the Irish Penal Reform Trust to raise awareness of the rights of prisoners and how those rights may be vindicated.

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



Contact us

  • Tel: 01 874 1400
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