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Ebulletin #51

1st October 2009

In this edition:

  1. Introduction
  2. IPRT Board and Membership
  3. IPRT Position Papers: Human Rights, Penal Policy, and Planning the Future of Irish Prisons
  4. Lessons to be Learned: publication and launch of children detention report
  5. ICCPR Submission, July 2009
  6. IPRT in the News
  7. Prison Reports and Inspection Standards
  8. Department of Justice: White Paper on Crime
  9. Launch of National Drugs Strategy
  10. Annual Reviews: IHRC, Barnardos, Merchants Quay Ireland
  11. Prison Reform Trust (UK): Reducing Child Imprisonment
  12. Prisoners Families Infoline
  13. Employment Opportunity: Interights, London
  14. Upcoming Events

1. Introduction

Welcome to the fourth IPRT e-bulletin of 2009, in which we are delighted to announce the publication of three new Position Papers, not forgetting the imminent launch of the report on youth detention standards and best practice. A number of other important reports and reviews have been issued over the recent months, also documented in this e-bulletin.

We have also been expanding our reach into the web, with a new presence on Facebook. We are really keen to get our message out there, and ask you to help spread the word by becoming fans of IPRT on Facebook – please tell your friends to become our fans too!

You can also follow IPRT on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news, not forgetting www.iprt.ie as the source for information on penal reform issues in Ireland.

2. IPRT Board and Membership

IPRT welcomed Eddie Darcy of Catholic Youth Care onto the Board in September 2009. Eddie joins IPRT Board members Dr Ursula Kilkelly (Chair), Dr Mary Rogan (Vice-Chair), Ruaidhri McAuliffe (Treasurer), Johnny Connolly, Christine Littlefield, Tim McCarthy and Claire O’Regan.

Are you a member of IPRT?
IPRT relies on the support of its members to carry out its work. Become a member of IPRT here.

Become a member of IPRT before end October 2009, and enjoy membership to 31 December 2010!

3. IPRT Position Papers: NEW

IPRT is delighted to announce the publication of three new Position Papers, now available on www.iprt.ie/position-papers

1. Human Rights in PrisonThis paper looks at the principles and concepts that underpin human rights law as it applies to prisoners and prison conditions, outlining the main relevant international human rights standards, as well as discuss the impact of such interpretation on the Irish prison policy and practice.

2. Penal Policy with Imprisonment as a Last Resort
This paper outlines IPRT’s position on the use of imprisonment as a criminal sanction of last resort. The paper discusses concepts such as ‘penal moderation’ and ‘reductionist penal policy’, as well as the wider implications of the continuous expansion of prisons in Ireland.

3. Planning the Future of Irish Prisons
Linked to the paper on the use of prisons as a last resort, this paper discusses the principles and evidence base that should underpin the debate in Ireland on the future size of prison population and prison estate. The paper attempts to link the quantitative arguments about the physical size of Irish prisons with the wider questions of criminal justice policies and the impact of political decision-making on the situation in Irish prisons.

IPRT is committed to progressive penal reform through evidence-led policies, and these Position Papers are central to the work of IPRT in setting out the solid basis for our vision.

IPRT will shortly publish two further Position Papers dealing with Community-based Sanctions and Accountability and Prisons. For more information, contact Agnieszka at: research@iprt.ie

4. Lessons to be Learned: publication and launch of children detention report

IPRT will launch The Detention of Children - Lessons to be Learned from International Standards and Other Jurisdictions at the end of October, 2009. More information will follow shortly.

The research paper considers the application and implementation of international human rights standards to children detention in Ireland, and how the aims enshrined in these standards can be best achieved in the Irish context. The report also seeks to influence the debate on the design and best practice policies in the new National Children Detention Facility to be built at the Oberstown Campus in Lusk, whilst renewing a call for an immediate end to the detention of boys at St Patrick’s Institution.

For more information about The Detention of Children - Lessons to be Learned from International Standards and Other Jurisdictions, please contact: Agnieszka at research@iprt.ie or Fíona at communications@iprt.ie

Stay up to date with information on the area of youth justice at: www.iprt.ie/youth-justice

5. IPRT submission to ICCPR

In August 2009, IPRT, FLAC and ICCL made a joint submission to the UN Human Rights Committee as a 1-year update on the Concluding Observations of the Committee following their visit in 2008. Read the submission here.

6. IPRT in the News – some highlights

On 28th July, a letter by Liam in response to the McCarthy Report was printed in the Letters page of The Irish Times. The letter remains essential reading, as we creep ever-closer to further cutbacks.

At the beginning of August, the Evening Echo ran a week-long series focusing on all aspects of youth justice, including interviews with both Liam and also Ursula.

On 14th August, the Irish Prison Service Annual Report 2008 was published. IPRT’s response was broadcast across a number of radio channels, and also RTÉ and The Irish Times. More substantial interviews were included on Newstalk FM’s ‘Lunchtime’, RTÉ’s Drivetime, Today FM Lunchtime News, and on 4FM’s ‘Tom McGurk Show’ – on which Board member Mary Rogan made her IPRT debut, and to great acclaim!

The Inspector of Prisons’ Annual Report 2008 was also published – very quietly – on 14th August. Liam talked to Today FM’s ‘The Last Word’, Live95 FM’s ‘Limerick Today’ and Highland Radio’s ‘Shane Doherty Show’ about the findings. See also a letter - Prisons under 'severe strain' - by Mary Rogan responding to the report, in her own capacity, published in the Irish Times on 20th August.

Issue 34 of Emergency Services Ireland includes an item on the Open Forum debate, including Prof Andrew Coyle’s presentation in full. This publication goes out to prison staff, among other audiences – key people with whom to share the message.

In September, the Irish Independent published an opinion piece by Liam - ‘Essentially, planning to build more prisons is planning for the future failure of social policies’ – and most recently, following the publishing of the Mountjoy Prison Inspection Report, IPRT’s response to “inhuman and degrading treatment” of prisoners was sent out across media channels including The Irish Times, Irish Examiner, Sunday Tribune and RTÉ. For links to these and all of our media activities, see: www.iprt.ie/iprt-in-the-news

7. Prison Reports and Inspection Standards

Summer 2009 saw the publication by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform of a number of critical reports and standards:

• Annual Report 2008 of the Irish Prison Service
• Annual Report 2008 of the Inspector of Prisons
• Report on an Inspection of Castlerea Prison
• Standards for the Inspection of Prisons in Ireland
• Standards for the Inspection of Prisons in Ireland – Juvenile Supplement
• Report on an Inspection of Mountjoy Prison by the Inspector of Prisons

All of these reports are available to download here: www.iprt.ie/prison-reports

While IPRT welcomed the publication of the Standards for the Inspection of Prisons in Ireland, the dramatic increase in the numbers committed to prison, as reported in the Annual Report of the Irish Prison Service, and the shocking reports from the inspection of Mountjoy Prison are of serious concern.

Read IPRT’s response to the IPS Annual Report 2008 here; see also Liam’s response the Inspectors of Prisons’ Annual Report 2008 in the Director’s Blog.

8. Department of Justice: White Paper on Crime

The Department of Justice White Paper on Crime process seeks to carry out an “end-to-end examination of the prevention, intervention and enforcement strategies to combat crime.” The first Discussion Document, Crime Prevention and Community Safety, was published in July with a deadline for submissions of end November 2009. Submissions should be sent to: whitepaperoncrime@justice.ie

For full details, please see: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PB09000119  

9. National Drugs Strategy launched

The Government’s new National Drugs Strategy, which covers the period 2009-2016, was launched on 19th September. Among the concerns raised is the reliance on a charity, the Elton John Foundation, to implement government priorities. Read the National Drugs Strategy here.

10. Annual Reviews: Irish Human Rights Commission, Barnardos, Merchants Quay Ireland

Irish Human Rights Commission
The IHRC launched its 2008 Annual Report on 9 July 2009, at which Dr Maurice Manning, President of the IHRC stated that the fallout from this economic recession is having the greatest impact on vulnerable people who often need the most protection, further confirming the need for a strong and independent Human Rights Commission. Read the report here.

Barnardos launched their Annual Review 2008 on 16 July 2009, with a stark warning against the number of children at an increased risk of poverty due to an environment of budget cuts which continue to reduce the support available to the most vulnerable in society. Read both the statement and the report here.

Merchants Quay Ireland
The Annual Review 2008 of Merchants Quay Ireland was launched on 29 September 2009, with a clear statement that heroin use has now become a national crisis. Read the report here (from 2 Oct.)

11. Prison Reform Trust (UK) – Out of Trouble reports

A new report published in September 2009 by the Prison Reform Trust identifies a number of successful international approaches to reducing child and youth imprisonment and cutting crime. Reducing child imprisonment in England and Wales - lessons from abroad can be downloaded here. Read the press release here.

The Prison Reform Trust (UK) has previously published a number of highly interesting research reports focusing on aspects of youth justice, including:

  • Children: Innocent until proven guilty? (Feb 2009) A briefing on the overuse of remand for children in England and Wales and how it can be addressed.
    Read the Briefing and/or the Full report.
  • Criminal Damage: why we should lock up fewer children.Read the Briefing.

For more information, visit: www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk

12. Prisoners Families Infoline

The Prisoners’ Families Infoline provides a confidential service for anyone who is affected by the imprisonment of a family member, partner or friend. Service available: 11am-2pm, Monday-Friday.
T: 1890 25 25 78
W: www.pfi.ie ________________________________________

13. Employment Opportunity: Interights, London

Interights is seeking to recruit a new Executive Director. This is an exciting opportunity for a candidate able to provide leadership to a well-established, reputable human rights organization which is based in London and is at the cutting edge of human rights law internationally. For more information or to download the application pack, please visit: www.interights.org

Interights is also recruiting for a co-Litigation Director (job share), three days a week; details of this post can also be found on the website: www.interights.org

The closing date for applications is 12th October 2009, interviews will be held in November 2009.

14. Upcoming Events

On 16th October 2009, the ACJRD 12th Annual Conference: Perspectives on Sex Offending takes place at Castleknock Hotel and Country Club, Dublin 15. Contact: enquiries@acjrd.ie or tel: 01-6174878.

Also on 16th October in Dublin, the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA) are holding an ECHR seminar for practitioners: Using human rights law for clients: comparing the British and Irish experiences. Contact Jo Kenny, tel: 01-8728048 or email: jo.kenny@pila.ie

On 21st November, the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Law Society of Ireland will host their Annual Human Rights Conference Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – Making States Accountable. To register your interest in attending, contact: Anthea Moore, Law Society, tel: 01 6724961 or email: A.Moore@lawsociety.ie

On 24th November, the Equality & Rights Alliance conference A Fairer Ireland: Equality and Rights at the Heart of Recovery will take place at The Radisson Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 8. Speakers include Karen Chouhan who was named a Key Visionary by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust in the UK. Places are limited so early booking is advisable. Contact: Rachel@eracampaign.org for more details.

Irish Penal Reform Trust
4th Floor, Equity House, 16-17 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7
T: +353-(0)1-874-1400 E: info@iprt.ie W: www.iprt.ie

All articles are copyright 2009 Irish Penal Reform Trust, unless otherwise noted.

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