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Ebulletin #54

11th February 2010

In this edition:

  1. Looking forward to 2010
  2. New in Research and Policy
  3. Project 2010: Prevention & Early Intervention
  4. IPRT Campaign on Spent Convictions
  5. IPRT in the News
  6. Council of Europe anti-torture Committee: visit to Ireland
  7. Mental Health Law Conference 2010
  8. Cutting crime: the case for justice reinvestment
  9. International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy
  10. Upcoming Events

1. Introduction

Welcome to the first IPRT Ebulletin for 2010.

This year, IPRT will continue to maintain pressure on human rights issues in prisons, supporting the work of international human rights bodies who will be examining the State’s actions in this area in 2010. We will also be campaigning strongly for the promised legislative change in the areas of alternatives to custody (Fines Bill 2009) and reintegration (Spent Convictions Bill 2007.)  

The White Paper on Crime, launched by the Department of Justice in Nov 2009, provides a window to rethink Irish crime policy. In order to maximise this opportunity, in 2010 IPRT will embark on an exciting new direction: that of refocusing justice policy away from criminal justice and towards Prevention and Early Intervention. Activities will include a research report, conference, and large public awareness campaign. 

Other activities this year will include the publication of the forthcoming research report on the reintegration of ex-prisoners, along with Position Papers and Briefings on other key penal reform issues. We will also host four more Prison Law Seminars throughout the year, our AGM and guest lecture in early summer, and much more.

This month we said farewell to our two interns Michelle Martyn and Martin Quigley, and thanked them for all their great work over the past 5 months. We are delighted to welcome our new interns, Kate O’Hara and Lynsey Black, to the team.

Liam Herrick
Executive Director 

Are you a member of IPRT?

One of the ways that you can support penal reform in Ireland, is to become a member of IPRT.

Don’t forget to keep up to date on IPRT news and activities between e-bulletins:

W: www.iprt.ie

Tw: www.twitter.com/iprt

Fb: www.facebook.com/irishpenalreformtrust 

2. New in Research and Policy

In 2010, IPRT continues to work on its research project on re-integration of ex-prisoners. We have nearly concluded the extensive fieldwork undertaken for the research, and are already drafting the chapters of the report. It is expected to be published in March 2010. 

We are also currently preparing our Position Paper on Health in Prisons, which should be ready for publication end March 2010. Kate O’Hara, a new intern, joined the research and policy post on 1st February 2010, and is currently leading the research activities for this Paper.

We are really sad to say goodbye to our previous Research and Policy Intern, Martin Quigley, whose time with IPRT came to an end at the beginning of February. Martin has provided invaluable assistance on the re-integration project, taking a lead on literature review for the project and organizing and taking part in research interviews. We would like to thank him for all his hard work and wish him good luck for his trip around the world that he will embark upon at the end of February!

For more information, contact Agnieszka Martynowicz, IPRT Research & Policy Officer, at: research@iprt.ie

 3.  Project 2010: Prevention & Early Intervention

In 2010, IPRT is working on a large-scale project, Choosing to Tackle the Causes of Crime: The Case for a Shift of Justice Resources to Prevention and Early Intervention.

Barnardos and IAYPIC are partners in this initiative, which seeks to influence government policy to shift resources away from the criminal justice system towards prevention and early intervention initiatives. Put simply, international cost benefit analysis proves that such a shift in resources is of far greater benefit to society in terms of social and economic cost.

The project will include the publication of a research report From Justice to Welfare: The Case for a Shift of Resources to Prevention and Early Intervention, which will be launched at a Conference on the themes in Dublin in May 2010 (tbc.) A public-awareness campaign will also be launched at the Conference, with activities to be carried out over 6 months, concluding in November 2010.

In the preparatory stage, IPRT has been collecting relevant news and research at: www.iprt.ie/current-campaign To get involved in the campaign or for more info, please contact Fíona or Lynsey at IPRT.

4.  IPRT Campaign on Spent Convictions Bill

In early 2008, IPRT welcomed the proposal of a Spent Convictions Bill 2007 as a first initiative to provide for expungement of adult criminal records in Irish law. Ireland remains the only country in the EU and one of few within the Council of Europe area without such legislation. Given the profound significance that the proposal could have for the lives of ex-offenders and their integration following release from prison, IPRT is pushing for action on the Spent Convictions Bill in 2010.

With this in mind, IPRT will initiate a campaign with the aims of: re-establishing the Spent Convictions Bill as a legislative priority of Government; having amendments accepted to strengthen the Bill; seeing the legislation enacted by end of 2010.

The initial phase of the campaign will see an updating of the IPRT Proposals for Amendments Spent Convictions Bill (July 2009) and the publishing of a Briefing Paper. IPRT very much welcomes contact from anyone else working in this area - please email Fíona at: communications@iprt.ie

Read more:

 5. IPRT in the News – some highlights

On 18th December, IPRT’s response to the Restorative Justice Report was included in the Irish Examiner  and on 21st December, details of the latest IPRT publications were included in The Irish Times Legal Pages.

In January 2010, Liam spoke to 4FM’s ‘Lunchtime with David Harvey’ about overcrowding in prisons (5th Jan); Newstalk FM’s ‘The Right Hook’ about proposals to revisit the death penalty; and Today FM’s ‘The Last Word’ on community sanctions as an alternative to custody (18th Jan); and 4FM’s ‘Breakfast Show’ on why Thornton Hall is not the answer to prison overcrowding (25th January.)

On 10th Jan, RTÉ’s The Sunday Forum discussed what society’s moral response should be to someone who takes another person’s life. Liam participated on the panel, alongside John Lonergan, Governor of Mountjoy Prison ; Ger Philpott of AdVic; Prof Harry Kennedy of the Central Mental Hospital; and John O’Keeffe, Dean of Law, Dublin Business School.

Mandatory sentencing came under the spotlight on Today FM’s, ‘The Last Word’ (28th Jan 2010) and on RTÉ’s The Frontline (1st February 2010.)

On 10th Feb, IPRT and ICCL  issued a joint call on the Government to make public the initial findings of the CPT following their recent visit to Ireland; this was picked up The Irish Times.

For links to our media activities, see: www.iprt.ie/iprt-in-the-news or contact Fíona, IPRT Campaigns & Communications Officer.

6. Council of Europe anti-torture Committee: visit to Ireland in 2010

The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out a visit to Ireland from 25 January to 5 February 2010. This was the Committee's fifth periodic visit to Ireland, and involved an assessment of the extent to which the Committee’s recommendations have been implemented since the previous visit in 2006. The Irish Penal Reform Trust prepared a submission to the Committee in advance of their visit.

Among the establishments visited were: Cork Prison, Limerick Prison (female section), Midlands Prison, Mountjoy Prison, Portlaoise Prison and St Patrick’s Institution. Cloverhill and Wheatfield Prisons and the Dóchas Women’s Centre were also visited specifically to examine care afforded to prisoners with a mental health disorder.

Read more:

We would like to invite anyone who has information about conditions and/or issues regarding the situation in Irish prisons that should be brought to the attention of the CPT to pass on such information by contacting Agnieszka Martynowicz, IPRT’s Research and Policy Officer at: AMartynowicz@iprt.ie or tel: (01) 874 1400. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence.

 7. Mental Health Law Conference 2010

The Faculty of Law, University College Cork, and the Mental Health Lawyers Association are jointly organising a conference on Mental Health Law which will take place in Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, UCC, Cork on Friday 26th February 2010. The conference will be followed by the launch of a new book on Mental Health Law and Practice by Dr Darius Whelan.  Dr Mary Henry, former independent Senator, will speak at the launch.

Speakers at the conference include: Dr Mary Donnelly, Faculty of Law, UCC; Mr Mark Felton, Solicitor, Chairperson, Mental Health Lawyers Association; Ms Mary Forde, Legal Officer, Amnesty International; Ms Áine Hynes, Solicitor, Vice Chairperson, Mental Health Lawyers Association; Mr Hugh Kane, CEO, Mental Health Commission; Mr Michael Lynn, Barrister at Law; Ms Patricia Rickard-Clarke, Law Reform Commission; Mr Diarmaid Ring, Mental Health Service User and Activist; Dr Darius Whelan, Faculty of Law, UCC

For full details see: http://www.ucc.ie/en/lawsite/eventsandnews/events/mentalh2010

8. Cutting crime: the case for justice reinvestment (UK) 

A new report, Cutting Crime: the Case for Justice Reinvestment, based on a two-year inquiry by a cross-party group of MPs, has identified that the current prison building programme in England & Wales is unsustainable, and that spending more on rehabilitation and prevention would cut crime.

The Justice Committee suggests that the current pub­lic spending crisis opens up an opportunity for a radical rethink of large-scale spending commitments. They advocate capping the prison population at 84,000, and investing resources in local education, health, drug, alcohol and community programmes, which are more effective in cutting crime.

Further more, the report recommends that Courts should regard sending offenders to jail as a last resort, adding that “the underlying needs of many persistent offenders who cause most problems to local communities would be managed more coherently in the community".

Read more:

9. International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy

The International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy was launched on 10th December, 2009. The Centre is dedicated to developing and promoting innovative and high quality legal and human rights scholarship on issues related to drug laws, policy and enforcement.

It pursues this mandate by publishing original, peer reviewed research on drug issues as they relate to international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law and public international law, and fostering research on drug policy issues among postgraduate law and human rights students at universities and colleges around the world. Former IPRT Executive Director Rick Lines is one of the Project Directors.

For more information, see: www.humanrightsanddrugs.org 

10. Upcoming Events

On 24th February, Amnesty International Ireland will launch their latest report, The Missing Link: coordinated Government action on mental health.

On 26th February, Faculty of Law, UCC / Mental Health Lawyers Association will host a Mental Health Law Conference 2010. For more details or to register, contact Ms Noreen Delea, at e-mail lawevents@ucc.ie or tel: (021) 490 3220. 

On 14th March, the Centre of Criminal Justice and Human Rights (CCHJR), Faculty of Law, UCC will host the 4th Annual Criminal Justice and Human Rights Lecture: ‘Respectable Criminality’ will be delivered by the Honourable Mr Justice William McKechnie, Judge of the High Court. For more information, contact: cchjr@ucc.ie

On 23rd March, Durham Law School is organising a 1-day conference on the broad area of Restorative Justice and Transitional Justice.

From 14th to 16th April, the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control - British and Irish section conference takes place at Manchester Metropolitan University, on the theme: “Standing in the Gaps: Challenging the Entitlement of the Powerful”  

On 29th April, the CCJHR will hold its IV Annual Postgraduate Conference, on the theme "Borders of Justice: Locating the Law in Times of Transition." The call for papers closes 19th February 2010.

From 24th to 28th May, the EPEA (Malta branch) is hosting a 1-week course entitled: Training Teachers and Instructors to Teach in Prisons/Detention Centres. For more information, contact Dr. Joseph Giordmaina at: joseph.giordmaina@um.edu.mt

From 31st May to 4th June, the International Human Rights Network will host training in “Justice Sector Reform: Applying Human Rights Based Approaches on NUI Maynooth campus. For more information, contact: PHarney@ihrnetwork.org

On 21st/22nd June, the 6th North/South Irish Criminology Conference will take place at the University of Ulster, Belfast Campus.

From 23rd to 25th June, the 13th International Conference on Penal Abolition takes place at Queen’s University, Belfast.


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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