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Weekly jail visits restored for first time since virus onset

13 Dec 2022 / prison Print

Weekly jail visits back for the first time since virus

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has welcomed the reinstatement of weekly physical visits to prisons (12 December) following their suspension in March 2020 under COVID-19 public-health measures.

In May 2022, physical visits were gradually reinstated, but limited to once a fortnight, alongside video visits. 

IPRT identified an approximately 80% reduction in the number of children who physically visited an adult in prison between 2020 and 2021. 

'Tough ban'

IPRT's Saoirse Brady said that the ban had been tough on people in prison, and on their families. 

"The focus of the news should be on the positives that flow from these visits, and not only on security aspects," she added.

Multiple benefits

“Maintaining positive family contact has multiple benefits for the person in prison. Research shows that positive family contact is also a crucial factor in rehabilitation, and reduces the likelihood of reoffending on release,” she said.

The limiting of physical visits also had a stark impact on mental health, given the absence of physical family contact and the lack of emotional support available to prisoners, Brady said.

However, video calls have worked well, particularly where access to transport is a barrier, she said, and such calls should be maintained.

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