Limerick students develop database on deaths in custody

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Limerick students develop database on deaths in custody

Eimear Spain, UL law, Inspector of Prisons Judge Michael Reilly and Shane Kilcommins, head of UL School of Law Picture: Oisin McHugh

A DATABASE, designed by a group of law students at University of Limerick, will be an important resource for the State, the Inspector of Prisons Judge has said.

A report by the researchers recommended that the Irish Prison Service or Inspector of Prisons develop the database to record information regarding deaths in prison custody. 

The students conducted an extensive review on deaths in custody and designed a deaths-in-custody database based on international best practice.

“The report is created out of the absence of reliable, comprehensive information on deaths in custody within this jurisdiction,” said Professor Shane Kilcommins, UL School of Law.

Ten law students participated in the research supported by Professor Kilcommins and senior lecturer in health law at UL Dr Eimear Spain.

In 2014, Judge Reilly, who is also Adjunct Professor of Law at UL, identified the potential benefits of a comprehensive database.

“The absence of reliable, comprehensive information on deaths in custody within this jurisdiction has long struck me as lamentable. This project emerged from a conversation between Professor Kilcommins and me in 2014 in which we discussed my desire to rectify the information deficit in this regard,” Judge Reilly said. The database will allow the Inspector to test mortality rates against the prison populations in other countries.

It will also allow the identification of risk factors and a comparison of risk factors with international norms and allow the Inspector to point to remedial action where appropriate.

The report will be presented to the Tánaiste and Minster for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald TD.