Topics » Criminal Law Discourse » PRISON LAW


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    • #112592
      ritu raj JNU


      Law of Ireland


      The main source of prisoners’ rights is the Prison Rules 2007 to 2017. The Irish Prison Service, the body responsible for the day-to-day operation of Irish prisons, must respect the rights and entitlements of all those committed to its custody by the courts.

      Ireland has also agreed to follow the terms of 4 international treaties which set out standards for the treatment of prisoners. These are:

      • European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
      • European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
      • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
      • Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)
      • Further guidance is provided by the Council of Europe’s European Prison Rules which set out basic standards for the treatment of prisoners.

      This document provides an overview of how prison affects the daily life and associated rights of an individual. It includes information on prisoners’ right to vote, right to privacy and right to property, among other issues.


      Right to marry-The courts have not yet decided that you have a right to marry while you are in prison.

      Right to procreate and/or conjugal rights-You do not have a right to temporary release in order to procreate, or to conjugal visits.

      If you are married, you have a right to communicate with your spouse, but without privacy. You also have a right to take some part in the education of your children.

      Right to vote-The Electoral (Amendment) Act 2006 enables prisoners to vote by post. If you are in prison, you can register for a postal vote in the area that you would otherwise be living in.

      If you are already registered to vote in that area and wish to be able to vote from prison then you should fill out a form called Form RFG. If you are not already on the register then you should complete Form RFA4 as well. These application forms are available in all prisons and should be sent to the local authority for your area.

      If you happen to be on parole or temporary release at the time of an election, you are free to vote where you are registered. However, you have no right to temporary release in order to vote at the ballot box. If you are on remand, your rights are the same as if you were a convicted prisoner.

      Right to associate-You have a right to communicate with other prisoners while you are working or at recreation. However, you must communicate in an orderly way and you cannot impede the other prisoners’ work.

      The governor of the prison can take away this right in the interest of good order in the prison.

      Right to sanitation and washing facilities-You do not have an absolute right to in cell sanitation and washing facilities. However, if it is possible, adequate sanitary and washing facilities should be provided in your cell or room. Where this is not possible, you must have reasonable access to sanitary and washing facilities.

      Right to privacy-You have a limited right to privacy. For example, you may not to be stripped, searched or bathed in the presence of another prisoner. In addition, you have the right to be exposed to the public view as little as possible while being removed from or to prison. However, you may be photographed. Your right to privacy may be limited for security reasons.

      Rights relating to searches and drug testing-You may be searched and you may only be searched by officers of the same sex. The search must be done with due regard to your decency and self-respect and in as appropriate a manner as possible. At no stage should you be left completely naked.

      You might have to give a hair, urine or saliva sample for the purpose of detecting the presence or use of alcohol, a controlled drug or a medicinal product.

      A search can only be carried out for a genuine purpose, for example, to find forbidden items. A search cannot be carried out simply to harass you.

      Right to freedom from discrimination-You have the same right to freedom from discrimination as any other citizen.

      Right to recreation-If you are involved in indoor work at the prison, you are entitled to daily exercise in the open air for one hour or more.

      Where possible, you must be provided with access to indoor space and equipment, suitable for physical recreation, exercise or training.

      Right to property-You do not have the right to keep money in prison. You are not allowed to keep all the money and property you brought into the prison or were sent to the prison for your use. They will be placed in the custody of the governor, who will keep an inventory of them. The money will be lodged into an account for your use.

      Right to bodily integrity-You have a limited right to bodily integrity. For example, a prisoner’s hair cannot be cut without their consent unless the prison doctor considers it necessary on health grounds.

      Right to freedom of religion-You do have a right to practise your religion. The prison will provide for basic religious needs but you do not have a right to special requirements.

      When you arrive in prison, you will state your religious denomination and if there is no service provided in the prison for your denomination, the prison will allow a religious instructor visit you.

      Right to food-While you are in prison, you must be given a healthy, well balanced and reasonably varied diet. Where possible, provision is made to enable a prisoner to observe the dietary practices of their religion or culture. The prison medical officer can approve a change of diet.

      Right to education-You have a right to education while you are in prison.

      Rights of mothers-The child of a female prisoner can be taken into the prison to facilitate breast feeding, until the child is 12 months of age. The child may not be taken from its mother until the medical officer certifies that it is in a fit condition to be removed.

      Except in special circumstances, the child will not be kept in the prison after it is 12 months old.

      Before taking a child out of prison, the governor must consult with the child’s mother and the Child and Family Agency as to the appropriate placement for the child.

      Right to smoke-Prisoners do not have a right to smoke except in accordance with rules laid down by the governor.
      STATUS: OCT 2022

    • #112600
      Rinku Das (Hazra)

      Prison system in Ireland

      The Minister for Justice is responsible for the prison system in Ireland. However, the Irish Prison Service, an executive office established within the Department of Justice, controls the day-to-day operation of Irish prisons.

      The Irish Prison Service is responsible for the safe and secure custody of all those committed to it by the courts. This includes people held on remand, detained on immigration matters and sentenced to imprisonment.

      In addition to ensuring that convicted people properly serve their sentences, the Irish Prison Service is responsible for providing prisoners with appropriate resources and opportunities to reduce the likelihood of their reoffending and assisting prisoners with reintegrating into their communities upon release.

      The Irish Prison Service deals exclusively with offenders who are 18 years of age or over. You can find out more about children and the criminal justice system in Ireland.

      Section 35 of the Prisons Act 2007 provides for the making of rules for the regulation and good government of prisons. Prison Rules 2007 (SI 252/2007), as amended, sets out, among other things, the rules in relation to admissions and transfers.

    • #112601
      Rinku Das (Hazra)

      Prison facilities in Ireland


      There are 12 institutions in the Irish prison system. Ten are traditional closed facilities with both internal and perimeter security, while 2 are open centres with reduced security measures.

      Open prisons operate a regime based on the voluntarily accepted discipline of the prisoners. By providing prisoners with more independence and responsibility, as well as increased access to educational, employment and developmental opportunities, open centres are designed to prepare offenders for their reintegration into civil society upon release.

      The majority of female prisoners are accommodated in the purpose built Dóchas Centre in Mountjoy Prison in Co. Dublin, with the remainder accommodated in Limerick Prison.

      Information on individual prisons is included below.

      Arbour Hill

      A closed, medium security prison for adult males. The prisoner profile is largely made up of long term sentenced prisoners.

      Castlerea Prison

      A closed, medium security prison for adult males. It is the committal prison for remand and sentenced prisoners in Connacht and also accommodates committals from counties Cavan, Donegal and Longford.

      Cloverhill Prison

      A closed, medium security prison for adult males, which primarily caters for remand prisoners committed from the Leinster area.

      Cork Prison

      A closed, medium security prison for adult males. It is the committal prison for counties Cork, Kerry and Waterford.

      Dóchas Centre

      A closed, medium security prison for females aged 18 years and over in the Mountjoy Prison facility. It is the committal prison for females committed on remand or sentenced from all Courts outside the Munster area.

      Limerick Prison

      A closed, medium security prison for adult males and females. It is the committal prison for males for counties Clare, Limerick and Tipperary and for females for all six Munster counties.

      Loughan House

      An open, low security prison for males aged 18 years and over who are regarded as requiring lower levels of security.

      Midlands Prison

      A closed, medium security prison for adult males. It is the committal prison for counties Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly and Westmeath.

      Mountjoy Prison

      A closed, medium security prison for adult males. It is the main committal prison for Dublin city and county.

      Portlaoise Prison

      A closed high security prison for adult males. It is the committal prison for those sent to custody from the Special Criminal Court and prisoners accommodated here include those linked with subversive crime.

      Shelton Abbey

      An open, low security prison for males aged 19 years and over who are regarded as requiring lower levels of security.

      Wheatfield Prison

      A closed, medium security place of detention for adult males and for sentenced 17-year-old juveniles.

    • #112602
      Rinku Das (Hazra)

      International transfers OF PRISONERS UNDER LAW IRELAND

      If you are a foreign national serving a term of imprisonment in Ireland, you can apply for a transfer to complete your sentence in your home state.

      Ireland is a signatory to the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. The Treaty, ratified by 66 countries including 19 states outside the Council of Europe, provides for the extradition of non-nationals convicted of a criminal offence to their home country. If a country is not a signatory to the Convention a transfer will require a bilateral agreement between the two states.

      For a transfer to take place, there must be 3-way consent. The prisoner, the sentencing country and the prisoner’s home country must all agree to the transfer.

      Additionally, you must meet 4 conditions to be eligible to apply for a transfer:

      You must be regarded as a national of the country you wish to be transferred to.
      Your sentence must be final. You cannot apply for transfer before you face trial or until after all appeals have been heard.

      There must be at least 6 months left to serve on your sentence.

      The crime for which you were convicted must also be recognised as a crime in your home country.
      An application for a transfer usually begins with a prisoner informing the prison authorities of their desire to complete their sentence in their home country. Alternatively, you can communicate this wish directly to the Minister for Justice. The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas have produced a valuable factsheet (PDF) on the process of applying for an international transfer.

      The legal complexity of the international transfer process is such that most applications take a long time. The Minister for Justice produces an annual report (PDF) on the operation of the transfer scheme which shows the number of prisoners transferred in and out of Ireland each year.

    • #112603
      Rinku Das (Hazra)

      Immigration detention

      In general, asylum seekers and irregular immigrants who may be detained under Irish law include:

      Non-nationals who arrive in Ireland and are refused leave to land

      International protection applicants who are deemed to be in one of the categories set out in Section 20(1) International Protection Act

      International protection applicants being transferred to another EU Member State under the Dublin Regulation who are at risk of absconding
      Non-nationals with outstanding deportation orders; and
      Non-nationals awaiting trial for a criminal immigration-related offence
      Section 20(1) of the International Protection Act 2015 provides that international protection applicants may be detained by an immigration officer or a member of Garda Síochána and arrested without warrant if it is suspected that they:

      -Pose a threat to public security or public order in Ireland
      -Have committed a serious non-political crime outside Ireland
      -Have not made reasonable efforts to establish their identity (including non-compliance with the requirement to provide fingerprints)
      -Intend to leave Ireland without lawful authority enter another state
      -Have acted or plan to act in a manner that would undermine the system for granting persons international protection in Ireland or any arrangement relating to the Common Travel Area
      -Have, without reasonable excuse, destroyed identity or travel documents or is in possession of fake identity documents

      There are currently no specialised detention centres for asylum seekers or irregular migrants in Ireland. If detained under section 20(1) of the International Protection Act 2015, you can be detained at a Garda station or Cloverhill Prison. If detained at Cloverhill Prison, you should be separated from the general prison population. Persons under 18 years of age cannot be detained.

      There is no maximum duration for the detention of protection applicants set out in the International Protection Act. Section 20(12) indicates that a District Court judge can, provided the relevant criteria are met, apply for detention for consecutive 21-day time periods with no upper limit.

      The Irish Refugee Council has published detailed guidance and information on immigration detention procedures in Ireland. You can also read more about refugee status and leave to remain, the asylum process in Ireland and the services available to asylum seekers in Ireland.

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