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.

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Education, Training And Services

What do I do during the day?

The facilites available to prisoners outside their cells include:

  • education
  • training
  • recreation
  • sporting.

You should be able to take part in what the Irish Prison Service (IPS) calls ‘authorised structured activities’. This includes work, training and education. It also includes taking part in programmes designed to reduce offending and help you to prepare for going back into society.

Where possible, you should get involved and have access, to these activities for at least five hours a day, five days a week. (Rule 27 [3])

Working in the prison might mean doing jobs to keep the prison running smoothly. These jobs might include cleaning or painting of landings or yards or other parts of the prison.

You do not have to take part in work if the prison doctor certifies in writing that you are unfit to work due to health reasons, or due to age or disability.

How much can I exercise in prison?

By law you have the right to at least one hour of recreation in the open air every day, like walking around the yard. (Rule 32)

Your entitlements to recreation, exercise and training may be stopped, restricted or changed for a specified period if this needs to happen to prevent or limit the spread of an infectious disease.

Where possible, you should have access to suitable indoor space and equipment for:

  • education
  • training
  • recreation
  • sporting.

You will not have to take part in exercise or training if a prison doctor certifies in writing that you are unfit due to ill-health or age.

Remedial Therapy or Care

The Governor in consultation with the Director of Prison Healthcare should provide remedial physical education or therapy to you if the prison doctor certifies that it is necessary.

Can I access education and training in prison?

Yes. You should be able to access education programmes to suit you in prison. (Rule 110) All prisons in Ireland have a duty to provide education and training facilities so that prisoners can serve their sentence in the most useful way possible.

You should be allowed to access education facilities in the prison where you are serving your sentence. A wide range of educational resources should be available to you while you are in prison.

Soon after you are committed, you should meet with the head teacher to talk about your options for education and work training. Classes are available in subjects like:

  • English
  • maths
  • computers
  • art
  • music
  • woodcraft
  • personal development
  • parenting
  • nutrition.

Some courses may be available before you are released. These include professional development and career guidance. You can study some subjects at Junior Cert and Leaving Cert level, and you may even move on to third-level courses.

Staff should encourage you to take on some educational activities while you are in prison.

Can I take classes to improve my reading and writing?

Yes. If you feel you need help with basic reading and writing skills, the education and prison staff should help you to take part in literacy and numeracy education programmes. (Rule 110 [2])

Can I use the library?

Yes. A library and information centre should be provided in every prison. Prisoners should have regular access to a wide range of information. You should be able to use the library service at your prison at least once a week. (Rule 110 [7])

Staff in the education unit and library of the prison should treat you with the same respect and dignity as if you were a student in an outside educational facility or library

Incentivised Regimes

Incentivised Regimes (IR) is a rewards scheme based on a prisoner’s level of engagement with services and their behaviour. There are three levels: basic, standard and enhanced.

All prisoners enter the system at 'standard' level

A prisoner is eligible for an 'enhanced' regime when they meet relevant conditions for two months in a row.

A prisoner can also be put back to a 'basic' regime level. This can happen if you refuse to engage in structured activities or you do not meet expected behaviour standards.

Incentivised Regimes is an Irish Prison Service policy. It is not governed by the Prison Rules.