Progress in the
Penal System (PIPS)

1.4 IPRT Standards

Standard 1: Penal policy is continually monitored, implemented, evaluated and evolving.
Standard 2: Imprisonment is used as a last resort. This principle is enshrined in domestic legislation, with focus on the promotion and proportionate use of alternatives to custody.
Standard 3: Every closed prison is operating at least 10% below its recommended maximum capacity.
Standard 4: Each prison is limited to a prison population not exceeding 300, but ideally a maximum of 200–250.
Standard 5: Prisoners are detained in the least restrictive prison security setting, as determined through risk assessment.
Standard 6: Open prisons comprise 30%-35% of the prison estate.
Standard 7: Every prisoner is provided with respect, dignity and humanity and has access to decent living conditions.
Standard 8: Every prisoner has 24-hour access to toilet facilities that respect the dignity and privacy of the individual.
Standard 9: Every prisoner has access to single-cell accommodation.
Standard 10: Remand prisoners are held separately from sentenced prisoners across the entire prison estate.
Standard 11: Every prisoner is encouraged and facilitated to maintain positive family and close, significant relationships.
Standard 12: The healthcare needs of individual prisoners are met. Every prisoner has access to healthcare that goes beyond the ‘equivalence of care’ principle, with a full range of preventative services and continuity of healthcare in the community.
Standard 13: People with serious mental health issues are diverted from the prison system and receive the appropriate treatment and supports in a timely manner.
Standard 14: People with addiction issues are diverted from the prison system and receive the appropriate treatment. Where imprisonment is the only appropriate response, treatment is made available within prison, with a continuum of care upon release.
Standard 15: A prisoner’s right to privacy, and that of his/her family members, is respected and protected.
Standard 16: Every prisoner spends a minimum of five hours a day engaged in structured meaningful activity for five days a week, in addition to a further minimum seven hours’ out-of-cell time.
Standard 17: Every prisoner and his/her family members, where desired, are facilitated and actively involved in his/her sentence planning from the beginning of sentence through to the point of release.
Standard 18: Prisoners are encouraged and facilitated to develop and maintain life skills and assume personal responsibility while in prison.
Standard 19: Every prison provides each prisoner with access to a range of educational activities that meet the individual’s needs and take into account their aspirations.
Standard 20: Civil society access to prisons is encouraged, and there are opportunities for prisoners to participate and engage in the community through structured forms of temporary release.
Standard 21: Prisoners are encouraged to engage with their political and civic rights.
Standard 22: Prisoners have access to a robust and effective complaints mechanism. All complaints are dealt with in a timely manner, and the outcome of a decision is clearly communicated to the prisoner, with a satisfactory resolution if the complaint is upheld.
Standard 23: Prisoners have access to an external, independent complaints and appeal mechanism, including access to a prisoner ombudsman or equivalent.
Standard 24: Structures are in place for the regular inspection and monitoring of prisons. Inspection reports are made publicly available within a clear timeframe.
Standard 25: The death of, or serious incident involving, a prisoner is investigated by an independent body immediately, and the investigation report published promptly.
Standard 26: Solitary confinement is used as a last resort and only in exceptional circumstances. It is used for the shortest period possible and for a maximum of 15 days. Reasons for and lengths of time a prisoner is held in solitary confinement must be recorded.
Standard 27: Prisoners and everyone in the prison system feel safe and protected from violence in the prison environment.
Standard 28: The health and welfare of prisoners is prioritised while they are under escort.
Standard 29: All staff receive relevant ongoing training and supports in order to effectively carry out their duties to a high standard.
Standard 30: Good relationships between management, staff and prisoners are facilitated and encouraged. Management ensures that a positive working culture is created in the prison.
Standard 31: Prison protocols emphasise de-escalation and conflict resolution approaches. Use of force and restraint are a measure of last resort.
Standard 32: Management in the prison system takes a proactive approach towards protecting anyone who is at risk of discrimination due to their age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disability or other.
Standard 32.1 A gender-sensitive approach should be adopted across the criminal justice system to respond to the distinct needs of women who offend.
Standard 33: The parole system is fair, transparent and removed from political control.
Standard 34: All prisoners have comprehensive preparation and structured plans for release. National policy and legislation provides for a structured release system.
Standard 35: Protocols are in place for inter-agency co-ordination in order to ensure the successful reintegration of prisoners on release.
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