IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Roundup: Reactions to the Annual Reports and Joint Strategic Plan of the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service

24th May 2013

The Irish Prison Service Annual Report 2012 was published alongside the Probation Service Annual Report 2012 and the Joint Irish Prison Service & Probation Service Strategic Plan 2013-2015 on 8th May 2013. The Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr. Alan Shatter, also published the 2012 annual reports of the Visiting Committees for Castlerea and Cloverhill Prisons and the Dóchas Centre on 7th May 2013.

IPRT welcomed the new strategy for cooperation between the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service as a positive initiative, but believes any such initiative will be limited in its effectiveness for as long as prisons are overcrowded and unsafe. To this end, IPRT calls on the Minister for Justice to take radical steps to reduce prison numbers in the short term, such as commuting all sentences of under six months, increasing standard remission to 33% and incentivised remission to 50%, and introducing an amnesty for fines.

Figures released in the annual reports and strategic plan also highlighted other issues of concern, including the high numbers of prisoners held on protection and 23-hour lock up, ongoing inhumane conditions in Cork Prison and ‘creeping penal expansion’ which has seen Midlands Prison increase its capacity to 900. IPRT calls on Government to progress with urgency the Irish Prison Service strategy for prisoners requiring protection and revisit the decision to park the issue of degrading conditions in Cork while awaiting the building of a new prison.

Publication of the reports and strategy were covered by many media outlets, including comment by IPRT. See below for more details.

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