Irish Penal Reform Trust

ICPO survey of Irish prisoners overseas

26th August 2021

In the last quarter of 2020, the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO) undertook a global survey of the 1,100 Irish people imprisoned overseas, resulting in 114 anonymous responses. Many of the experiences detailed are similar to those experienced by people held in prisons in Ireland, with the added layer of distance from family and difficulties with repatriation. Among the findings:

  • 60% of respondents reported experiencing mental health difficulties whilst in prison;
  • A significant proportion of respondents reported feelings of isolation and having little time outside of their cell (exacerbated by COVID-19 restrictions);
  • More than 70% of respondents said their primary concern arising from Covid was not for their own health but for the welfare of their loved ones at home. (Most people in prison have not seen their families for at least 18 months as visiting has not been permitted during the pandemic.) It was a particularly worrying time for those with vulnerable or older family members. "I have children; it’s a scary time and my older family members are a major concern."

At the launch of IPRT’s Piecing it Together last month, the ICPO highlighted to attendees that not all children impacted by imprisonment in Ireland have a loved one held in an Irish prison. This group of children – and their loved ones – also need dedicated supports.

Read the results of the client survey in full here.

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

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