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Ebulletin #67

21st December 2011

In this edition:

  1. Introduction
  2. IPRT Christmas E-cards
  3. Looking back at 2011, and forward to 2012
  4. IPRT Recruitment: Research & Policy Officer (Maternity Leave)
  5. 8th Prison Law Seminar - playback
  6. IPRT in the News
  7. Upcoming Events

1. Introduction

Welcome to the final edition of the IPRT Ebulletin for 2011, a busy and eventful year for IPRT and penal reform – clearly not all developments have been positive, but there are some signs of progress on a number of our key campaigning issues: Funds have been allocated to continuing the refurbishment of Mountjoy, bringing the ending of slopping out a little closer; Thornton Hall was abandoned; and reducing the prison population is now Government policy.  If recent shifts in policy are followed through in 2012, we could see the prison population drop for the first time in living memory.

At the same time, the Government has shamefully failed to move on ending the detention of children in St. Patrick’s Institution, there has been no real progress on establishing an independent complaints system for prisoners, and conditions in Cork and Limerick prisons remain appalling.  In recent weeks, we have also heard deeply disturbing reports of a change of regime at the Dóchas Centre.

This week, we have also had the shocking death of Shane Rogers at Cloverhill while on remand.  IPRT extends our deepest sympathies to the Rogers family and to all of those affected by this awful tragedy.  At this moment we know very little about the circumstances of Shane’s death, but serious questions arise about how a prisoner clearly in a high-risk category was able to take his own life.  More than five years after the death of Gary Douch at Mountjoy, no independent system for the investigations of deaths in prison has been put in place, and this latest case reinforces how far we still have to go to put in place basic human rights safeguards in our prison system to vindicate the rights of prisoners and their families.

Finally, on behalf of the IPRT staff and Board, I’d like to thank you for your support during 2011, and we look forward to working together in 2012 towards a just and humane penal system.

In the meantime, we wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Liam Herrick,

Executive Director

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. Christmas E-cards from IPRT

Xmas Card 1The last day for An Post pre-Christmas deliveries has passed, but never fear – you can still send your Christmas Greetings in time by sending one of IPRT’s Christmas E-Cards! For a €25 donation, we will give you an E-Card that you can send to everyone you know.

Why choose an IPRT E-Card?

  • Delivery in time for Christmas!
  • Send this e-card to as many people as you wish
  • Friendly to the environment
  • Simple to use: just attach or paste into an email and click send
  • You will be supporting the work of IPRT, and guaranteeing the independence of IPRT’s voice on penal reform issues in Ireland.

If you would like to find out more, call Mary Gaffney on: 01 874 1400. Final day for orders is Thursday 22nd December 2011 at 1pm!


3. Looking back at 2011, and forward to 2012

As 2011 draws to a close, we look back on a year that saw intense focus on and activity around human rights in prisons, with a damning report publishing by the CPT on 10th February 2011, further recommendations made by the UNCAT on 6th June 2011, and the UPR recommendations on 6th October 2011.

Other key events in 2011 include a seminar with Marsha Levick of the Juvenile Law Centre in January; the publication by the Ombudsman for Children of the consultation report Young People in St Patrick’s Institution; an open forum with Bobby Cummines OBE, Chief Executive of UNLOCK, focusing on Spent Convictions in May; the IPRT Annual Lecture delivered by Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter in September; a fundraising gig with The Participants in December; Prison Law Seminars; Oireachtas seminars, and more!

Full details of all we got up to will be made available in our Annual Report due for publication by April 2012; meantime read about everything we did in 2010 in the IPRT Annual Report 2010.

The numbers in prison custody peaked in April 2011 at 4,587 prisoners; numbers have since fallen slightly and remained constant at just under 4,300 prisoners in custody on any day – which is to be welcomed, but we need this trend to continue. Significant events in 2011 include the establishment of the Thornton Hall Review Group and publication of its final report; the enactment of the Criminal Justice (Community Service)(Amendment) Act 2011; the launch of a pilot project for early incentivised release of prisoners serving longer sentences; renovation works to install in-cell sanitation in Mountjoy Prison (despite statements until 2010 that this was not possible); the publication by the Inspector of the Prisons of his Standards for the Inspection of Prisons in Ireland - Women Prisoners’ Supplement, Guidance on Best Practice relating to the Investigation of Deaths in Custody and Guidance on physical healthcare in a prison context; along with inspection reports and annual reports from all agencies, including the IPS, IYJS and Prison Visiting Committees. All prison related reports, guidelines and standards are available here: http://www.iprt.ie/prison-reports

Looking forward to 2012, we are still finalising our goals and plans, but confirmed activities include:

  • On Thurs 2 February 2012 at 3pm, IPRT and the Community Platform will host an event focusing on the connections between social exclusion and crime. A new paper, The Vicious Circle of Social Exclusion and Crime: Ireland’s Disproportionate Punishment of the Poor, will be launched at the event.
  • On Sunday 26 February 2012, IPRT will host an arts in prison evening event in Dublin – full details to be revealed as confirmed but pencil it into your diaries now!
  • On Friday 30 March 2012, IPRT will host an event focusing on independent complaints mechanisms for prisoners. Speakers include NI Prisoner Ombudsman, Pauline McCabe.

Other planned activities include the launch of the Know Your Rights/Prisoners’ Rights Information Pack, produced in association with the ICCL; a follow-up UNCAT event to monitor what commitments have been kept, one year on from Ireland’ first periodic review in Geneva; an Open Forum event to take place alongside our AGM in June; a half-day conference around Drugs & Crime in September 2012; along with the continuation of the Prison Law Seminar Series and Oireachtas seminars for the All Party Penal reform Group.


4. IPRT Recruitment Opportunity: Research and Policy Officer (Maternity Leave)

Applications are invited for the post of Research and Policy Officer (Maternity Leave) with the Irish Penal Reform Trust. The successful candidate will be responsible for developing the policy base for IPRT’s campaigning work, including carrying out research and engaging with key stakeholders in the Irish penal system. This position is to cover Maternity Leave and will be of fixed duration of six months from February to August 2012.

The closing date for applications is today, December 21st 2011. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview early January 2012.

Please note: Application is by official application form and cover letter only. We will be unable to accept incomplete or late applications.

For more information, please contact Mary Gaffney at info@iprt.ie


5. Prison Law Seminar: “Creative Use of Legal Instruments”  

The 8th in our series of Prison Law Seminars, co-hosted with the DSBA and the ICBA, took place on Thurs 8th December, 2011 on the topic Creative Use of Legal Instruments: Current Prison Law Developments in England and Wales.  The seminar was presented by Caoilfhionn Gallagher BL, leading prison law practitioner and human rights and civil liberties specialist, with particular expertise in prison law and community care for children and vulnerable adults.

Caoilfhionn’s presentation is available to watch here.


6. IPRT in the News

  • On 11th November, following the Government’s announcements on capital spend for 2012, a number of media outlets reported on the shelving of the Thornton Hall plans including The Irish Times (which misquoted IPRT!) and thejournal.ie Issues around the shelving of Kilworth Prisons plans were given much-needed attention in The Cork News.
  • On 18th November, the Irish Examiner ran an analysis piece ‘Our prison system remains in crisis’, written by Liam Herrick, following the postponement of the Thornton Hall prison building project.
  • Following the publication on 18th November of the 2010 Annual reports of the Prison Visiting Committees, including a particularly damning one on the Dóchas Centre, Liam spoke to RTÉ’s Six One News and The Irish Times,thejournal.ie and the Irish Examiner.
  • Attention returned to imprisonment for fines on 19/20 November, with 6,969 fine defaulters imprisoned up to end November 2011. The news was covered by the Irish Examiner, thejournal.ie and the Evening Herald.

For a full list and links, click here.


7. Upcoming Events

  • On Thurs 2 February 2012 at 3pm, IPRT and the Community Platform will host an event focusing on the connections between social exclusion and crime. A new paper, The Vicious Circle of Social Exclusion and Crime: Ireland’s Disproportionate Punishment of the Poor, will be launched at the event.More info: www.iprt.ie
  • On Sunday 26 February 2012, IPRT will host an arts in prison evening event in Dublin – full details to be revealed as confirmed but pencil it into your diaries now!
  • On 5/6 March 2012, the Scottish Centre for Crime & Justice Research will host a Working in Partnership conference, Which way now? New directions in evidence based and gender informed practice, in Dunblane, Scotland. More details here.
  • On 30 March, IPRT will host an event focusing on independent complaints mechanisms for prisoners. Speakers include NI Prisoner Ombudsman, Pauline McCabe. More info: www.iprt.ie
  • On 26 April, the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights (CCHJR) at University College Cork will host the 6th Annual Postgraduate Conference aimed at researchers working in the areas of criminal law, criminal justice and human rights. Further details on the conference and a Call for Papers will be issued in early January 2012. For more information on the CCJHR, please visit: www.ucc.ie/en/ccjhr
  • On 28 & 29 June 2012, the North South Irish Criminology Conference will take place at University College Dublin on the theme of ‘Economy, Crime and Punishment’. Further information and a call for papers will be issued shortly.

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