IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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IPRT Forum to address exploding prisoner numbers, as numbers reach 4,317

28th June 2010

The Irish Penal Reform Trust, Ireland’s leading voice for penal reform, will today host an Open Public Forum, entitled Exploding Prisoner Numbers – Causes, Effects and Solutions. The event, which is chaired by the Inspector Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, will outline the causes of rocketing prison numbers in Ireland, and identify practical solutions to the prisons crisis.

Speakers at the event are: Tom O’Malley, Senior Lecturer in Law, NUI Galway and the Irish Sentencing Information System; Vivian Geiran, Deputy Director, The Probation Service; Assistant Commissioner Louis Harkin, An Garda Síochána; and Dr Mary Rogan, Chairperson of the Irish Penal Reform Trust.

As the numbers in prison reached 4,317 (Fri 25th June), with 941 out on temporary release, bringing the total in the prison system to 5,258, IPRT believes that a review of sentencing practice and policy has never been more urgent. Rather than persisting with gravely misguided proposals to build still more prison spaces, IPRT is calling on the Government to:

  • Commission an urgent review of sentencing practice and policy
  • Increase the use of community sanctions, with the necessary shift of resources from prisons to probation
  • Legislate for a presumption against sentences of 6 months or less

Over 1,720 spaces have been added to the prison system since 1997, when the rate of imprisonment was 68.1 per 100,000. Today, the rate of imprisonment is 94 per 100,000. The number in custody has increased by more than 10% in the last 12 months; this increase in the use of detention has occurred with little or no policy deliberation about the choices and options involved. We need, as a society, to look at the causes and effects of exploding prison numbers, and we need to identify real solutions now.

The IPRT Open Forum Exploding Prisoner Numbers - Causes, Effects and Solutions, takes place at 6pm on Monday 28th June, 2010 in the Morrison Hotel, Ormond Quay, Dublin 1.

For all media enquiries, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Fíona Ní Chinnéide, Campaigns & Communications Officer, Irish Penal Reform Trust

T: + 353 1 874 1400   E: communications@iprt.ie

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

  1. IPRT Open Forum Exploding Prisoner Numbers - Causes, Effects and Solutions, takes place at 6pm on Monday 28th June, 2010 in the Morrison Hotel, Ormond Quay, Dublin 1. The Forum is chaired by the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, with speakers: Tom O’Malley, Senior Lecturer in Law, NUI Galway and the Irish Sentencing Information System; Vivian Geiran, Director of Operations, The Probation Service; Assistant Commissioner Louis Harkin, An Garda Síochána.
  2. On 25 June 2010, there were 4,317 prisoners in custody; there were 941 prisoners out on Temporary Release, which brings the total to 5,258. (Source: Irish Prison Service) On 06 July 2009, there were 3,908 prisoners in custody. (Source: Dáil Questions, 8th July 2009) This is an increase of 409 prisoners (just over 10%) in 12 months.
  3. The number of prison bed spaces is currently 4,066; on 06 July 2009 it was 3,786. This represents an increase of 280 bed spaces in 12 months.
  4. In September 2010, the Irish Penal Reform Trust will host a conference on how to reduce crime through justice reinvestment, shifting resources away from the criminal justice system and towards crime prevention and early intervention strategies. Partners are Barnardos and IAYPIC.
  5. Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) is Ireland's leading non-governmental organisation campaigning for the rights of everyone in prison and the progressive reform of Irish penal policy, with prison as a last resort.