The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) today welcomed the publication of the Annual Report of the Irish Prison Chaplains. Speaking today, IPRT Executive Director Liam Herrick said:
"This latest report by the prison chaplains is a thoughtful and thought-provoking analysis of the current state of our prisons by highly-skilled professionals working at the coal-face of our prison system."
The report points to a range of serious human rights problems in our prisons. The report highlights in particular the vulnerability of certain groups in our prisons such as women prisoners, mentally ill prisoners and the appalling conditions in which juveniles are detained.
On all of these points, the report reinforces concerns that have been consistently expressed by the Irish Penal Reform Trust and international human rights monitoring bodies and again demonstrates how the State is failing to fulfil its legal obligations to provide and manage a safe and humane prison estate.
Reacting to the report Liam Herrick stated:
"Perhaps the most significant aspect of today's report is that looks at the conditions in our prisons in the context of the overall regressive direction of Irish criminal justice policy. The report points to systemic failures such as the absence of proper sentence management and the failure to introduce effective rehabilitation and reintegration initiatives. The report also raises profound questions about the impact or imprisonment on the whole community and especially on prisoners' families.
The chaplains point to the negative impact of the dramatic increase in the use of imprisonment in recent years. The report provides a powerful challenge to the wisdom of the current prison-building programme. This report is timely and authoritative and deserves the most serious attention by the Minister."