All deaths in prison custody, including those recently let out of prison on temporary release, will be independently investigated and reports into the deaths will be published, writes Crime Correspondent Conor Lally in today's edition of The Irish Times.
The article reports on IPRT's broad welcome of the reform, although the organisation also detailed its reservations about how the new system will work in practice.
The article also refers to his recent interview with Northern Ireland Prisoner Ombudsman, Pauline McCabe ('Finding out what happened is key to preventing future tragedy', The Irish Times, Friday 30th March 2012), in which she said a lack of independent investigations into deaths in prison custody, with published reports, meant the prison system would not learn and reform following such deaths.
Ed Carty, writing in the Irish Independent, makes the link between the Minister's announcement and the death of a prisoner while on suicide watch in Cloverhill last December. The article also outlines how IPRT described the reform as "highly significant" but has raised a question mark over whether it will meet requirements under the European Convention on Human Rights:
"Questions remain over whether the Inspector will have the powers to compel witnesses to give evidence; what level of involvement families of the deceased person will have; and whether, in the most serious of cases, a public inquiry will be possible."
- Dept of Justice and Equality: 'Minister Shatter announces independent investigation of all prisoner deaths'
- IPRT Press Release: 'Announcement on prison death investigations must be matched with adequate resources and legal powers'
- IPRT event: Strengthening Accountability Behind Bars (incl. presentation by Northern Ireland Prisoner Ombudsman Pauline McCabe)
- The Irish Times: 'Inquiries to take place and reports published into all deaths in prison'
- Irish Independent: 'Reports on prison deaths to be published under new Shatter regime'
- thejournal.ie: 'Every prisoner death to come under independent investigation'