Alcohol-Free Sanitizer Given To Prisoners to Prevent Them From Making 'Moonshine'

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) is providing inmates with alcohol-free hand sanitizer to stop them from making "moonshine."

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer was first banned in Irish prisons in 2014, but even with the spread of the novel coronavirus, the jails will continue to enforce the ban. According to, the 2014 ban came after three prisoners drank a mix of hand wash and prescription drugs at Limerick Prison.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged people to use alcohol-based hand wash or hand sanitizers during the global coronavirus outbreak, a spokesman for the IPS told The Journal that the prisoners do not have access to this type of hand sanitizer for "security reasons."

Prisons with no access to proper cleaning supplies, like alcohol-based hand sanitizer, have become a potential area for the virus to spread rapidly.

"Prisoners in jail are more likely to contract the virus due to overcrowding and low levels of sanitization," said Sherif Sultan, president of the International Society of Vascular Surgery, according to The Journal. "[They] are quarantined from society but not from each other. They lack handwashing facilities or hand sanitizer, which is sometimes deemed contraband due to its alcohol content. Handcuffed people cannot cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze."

The IPS spokesperson made a similar statement. "The unique environment of a prison and the sheer numbers and diversity of people who pass through our prisons make vigilance around infection prevention and control absolutely necessary." The spokesperson added that "99 percent" of prison cells have toilets and handwashing facilities, as well as access to showers on prison landings.

The IPS spokesperson added that in the very few situations where inmates wear handcuffs, they will still have the flexibility to cover their mouth when they cough and sneeze, according to The Journal.

Newsweek reached out to the IPS for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

While alcohol-based hand sanitizer is banned in many U.S. prisons, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that a prison in New York will manufacture for the public the state's own line of hand sanitizer, which has become scarce throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

The hand sanitizer will be called "New York State Clean," and will be produced at the Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Washington County, New York.

The novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, and has spread to over 145 different countries and territories and has infected over 164,000 people worldwide, according to the WHO.

Hand Sanitizer
A hand sanitizer dispenser at a hospital in San Francisco. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty