Seán McCárthaigh, writing in the Irish Examiner, reports on calls bythe Irish Penal Reform Trust for a major improvement in services to reintegrate prisoners into society to counteract high recidivisim rates which see six out of 10 former prisoners likely to reoffend within a few years of their release.
The new IPRT report states that such a high level of recidivism should provide the impetus for the Government to end the “revolving door” phenomenon, and urges the Government to introduce structural changes in the penal system, with an emphasis on preventing ex-prisoners from reoffending:
IPRT executive director Liam Herrick said the report highlighted the overall need to reduce the number of offenders being sent to prisons which are suffering from chronic overcrowding. Mr Herrick expressed concern that existing reintegration services were largely focused on long-term prisoners with little access to services being available to offenders serving sentences of less than 12 months.
The article details some of the 14 recommendations in the IPRT report, including calls for the introduction of new legislation on spent convictions, and a number of concerns including: the availability of funding for prisoner services in the current economic climate as budgetary cutbacks are implemented while the prison population continues to increase; and the lack of suitable accommodation for ex-prisoners with mental health problems and drug addiction, and sex offenders; and the “less than uniform” approach to the provision of services in prisons across the Republic.
The article quotes report author, Agnieszka Martynowicz, as saying that the effective reintegration of prisoners was central not only to their progress but to the reduction of harm caused by their period in custody: "Ms Martynowicz said it was in the interest of the State to invest in post-release support and the interest of society to support it."