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Women in the Criminal Justice System (ACJRD Conference Report)

17th February 2011

The ACJRD 13th Annual Conference Report was launched on Wed 16th Feb by the Hon. Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, who described it as an area of research and policy formation which doesn't receive a great deal of attention in Ireland.

Among the presentations were the preliminary findings of 'Homeless Women and Incarceration', a research study being carried out by Dr Paula Mayock and Sarah Sheridan of Trinity College Dublin, which has found that women who have been jailed have all experienced domestic violence at some point in their lives.

Other common experiences among women prisoners include intimate partner violence, substance misuse, mental health problems, poor physical health. More than half of these women are mothers.

"The average length of time spent homeless by these women who had also been in jail was 10 years and six months, and many of them had slept rough for prolonged periods of time," reports the Irish Examiner.

In a second article, the Irish Examiner reports on another study presented in which it was found that mental illness was present in a third of women who died in prison. Women suffering from mental illness in the prison system have multiple needs, from poor education to abuse problems.

It was also claimed that there are inadequate services provided for women in the Central Mental Hospital. The article quotes Áine Hynes, chairperson of the Irish Mental Health Lawyers Association:

"Seclusion is used inappropriately and they are accommodated in one ward which is not indicative of their progress and there is no separate rehabilitation ward."

Read more:

See also: Bid to tackle overcrowding in female jail (Irish Examiner)

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