Know Your Rights - Your Rights As A Prisoner

The information on this website is designed to help you to better know and understand the rights someone has while they are in prison. This website is an interactive version of IPRT and ICCL's 'Know Your Rights - Your Rights as a Prisoner' booklet.

The booklet is available for download in different formats by clicking the orange button.

Please don’t be put off by the amount of information on this website. You can read and/or print just the sections that are important to you. We have done our best to write and present this information as clearly as we can, and we start below by explaining some of the key words used on this website.

You can always click back to the 'Key Words' section if you come across a word you do not understand. We used Plain English Guidelines to help as many people as possible understand the information.

KYR Download

84 Page PDF

Prisoners with Disabilities

What are my rights if I have a disability?

There are various types of disabilities, for example, you might have:

  • autism
  • a learning difficulty
  • experience of mental health services
  • difficulties hearing, seeing or speaking
  • difficulty getting around without devices, assistance or interpretation.

These combined with other various barriers may make it difficult for you to take part in society on an equal basis to others.

If you have a disability, you have the same rights as everyone else. Some things in prison may be more difficult for you if you have a disability. Therefore, you have a right to reasonable accommodation. This means the Irish Prison Service must take appropriate steps to meet your needs. This is to make sure you have access to the same rights as everyone else. You have a right to understand:

  • what you are being told
  • what is expected of you
  • to be understood

For example, if you:

  • find it difficult reading the time, you can get a clock in a different format
  • have difficulties reading and writing, you can get support to fill in forms.

Let the prison staff know what works best for you, for example:

  • Easy Read
  • Braille
  • Sign Language
  • mobility aids
  • assisted devices
  • captioning
  • audio recordings.

Prison staff have a duty to help you

The prison staff have a duty to help you and must involve you in decisions that affect you.

The law says authorities like the Irish Prison Service have a duty to provide ‘reasonable accommodation’ for prisoners with disabilities. This means they should accommodate your needs as far as possible. However, be aware that the law states that if the accommodation is very expensive, the Prison Service may not have to provide it. The Prison Service may have to move you to another prison to meet your needs.

You don’t have to say you have a disability if you do not want to. If you say it to prison authorities, you have a right to expect that this information will be kept confidential. If you do not tell people, people may not be able to support you because they will not know what support you need. If you ask for support but do not say you have a disability, you may be less likely to receive support.

Even if you do not describe yourself as having a disability, you have a right not to be discriminated by people who believe that you do have a disability.

Examples of discrimination in prison can be:

  • not being able to take part in workshops, education or employment because there is no sign language interpreter
  • not having access to the yard or gym because it is inaccessible
  • not being given a wheelchair or cane when you need it
  • not having an accessible cell
  • being left in a cell all day because other parts of the prison are inaccessible
  • being punished for breaking prison rules when rules were not communicated to you in an accessible way.

The Prison Service must make sure you have access to the same services and places as other prisoners. You can ask for extra support to do daily tasks or to take part in programmes within the prison including employment, education and rehabilitation programmes.