A Report by the Inspector of Prisons on an Inspection of Loughan House has been published by the Minister for Justice.
Loughan House in County Cavan is one of only two open prisons in Ireland, the other being Shelton Abbey in Co. Wicklow. Open prisons play an important part in the reintegration of prisoners serving longer sentences as they approach release.
The Report finds the prison well-run, and refers specifically to positive "restorative justice in a prison setting" initiatives which benefit both the prisoners and the community alike.
The Inspector recommends that only prisoners with at least three years of their sentences remaining should be considered for transfer to the open prison, so that they have time to fully engage with the Centre in their sentence management.
Crucially, the Inspector identifies the lack of equal provision for women prisoners in Ireland as a key issue:
"There are many women serving long sentences in our two women’s prisons who would satisfy the criteria for transfer to an Open Centre... From my experience I am satisfied that a cohort of women would benefit. I am further satisfied that such a Centre would be an invaluable asset in the reintegration of such women back to their families and into society."
IPRT echoes the Inspector's calls.
The Inspector makes clear that an open prison for female offenders should be in addition to and not in substitution for a community-based residential centre which has been proposed for the Dublin area for targeted women with specific needs who are serving short sentences.
Inspector of Prisons: Report on an Inspection of Loughan House Open Centre