Intellectual disability in Irish prisoners; systematic review of prevalence [2018]

While individuals with an intellectual disability form a significant minority in the worldwide prison population, their healthcare needs require specialist attention. In Ireland, services for prisoners with intellectual disabilities need development. However, there is little substantive data estimating prevalence of intellectual disabilities within the Irish prison system.

We systematically review published data relating to the prevalence of intellectual disabilities in prisons in the Republic of Ireland. We searched four databases, governmental websites and corresponded with experts.

Little published data were elicited from searches except for one nationwide cross sectional survey which reflected a higher prevalence than reported in international studies. Studies from forensic mental health populations are narrated to contextualize findings.

This study found that there is little data to accurately estimate the prevalence of intellectual disabilities in the Irish prison system and the limited data available suggests that this is likely to be higher than international estimates. We highlight the need for further research to accurately estimate prevalence in this jurisdiction, alongside the need to develop screening and care pathways for prisoners with an intellectual disability.

Gautam Gulati, Valerie Murphy, Ana Clarke, Kristin Delcellier, David Meagher, Harry Kennedy, Elizabeth Fistein, John Bogue, Colum P. Dunne

International Journal of Prisoner Health, 2018