Achieving change, implementing reform
IPRT is resolutely focused on outcomes - real, measurable change in Ireland's penal system - rather than lists of activities and outputs, but we are very proud of what our small team of just 4 staff, supported by a dedicated volunteer board and interns, manage to achieve every year. 2015 was no different - here are just some of the highlights:
Seminars & Events:
- Oireachtas Seminar on Spent Convictions Bill 2012 (Feb 2015)
- Launch of Turnaround Youth: Young adults who commit offences ~ the case for a distinct approach research report (May 2015)
- IPRT 21st Birthday Reception, hosted by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins and Sabina Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin (Sept 2015)
- Prison Law Seminar: Bail Reform ~ Rights and Risks including launch of new IPRT Position Paper on Bail and Remand (Nov 2015)
- IPRT Conference: Securing Accountability ~ Building effective prison monitoring, inspection, and complaints systems (Nov 2015)
IPRT staff also delivered many presentations, conference papers and guest lectures at conferences, in prisons, and to university students around Ireland and abroad in 2015.
IPRT made oral and written submissions to national and international processes throughout 2015, including three presentations to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence, and a presentation to the Department of Justice discussion day on proposals for a criminal justice inspectorate. The following are just a small number of highlights:
- Submission to Children's Rights Alliance Parallel Report to Ireland's Third and Fourth Combined Report under the UN CRC (Feb 2015)
- Submission to Inspector of Prisons' Assessment of current culture within the Irish Prison Service (April 2015)
- Submission to Oireachtas on Children Amendment Bill 2015 (May 2015)
- Submission to Justice Committee on Ireland's approach to the possession of limited quantities of certain drugs (Aug 2015)
- Submission to Justice Committee on Heads of Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2015 (August 2015)
- Submission to Justice Committee on General Scheme of the Bail Bill 2015 (Sept 2015)
During 2015, IPRT worked on a number of discrete research projects:
- Community Service Orders versus short custodial sentences: examining profiles, experiences, and outcomes, conducted by employment-based PhD candidate Kate O'Hara (co-funded by the Irish Research Council)
- Rights and needs of LGBT prisoners
- Rights and needs of older prisoners
- Turnaround Youth II: Mental health needs and provision for young adults in the criminal justice system
- EU Project: Practice of Pre-Trial Detention: Monitoring Alternative and Judicial Decision Making (Fair Trials International)
- EU Project: Prison Litigation Network project (University of Florence)
- EU Project: Improving Prison Conditions by Strengthening Infectious Disease Monitoring (Harm Reduction International)
- EU Project (expert): Juvenile Offenders' Alternatives to Detention in Europe (International Juvenile Justice Laboratory)
In our 'spare' time, IPRT also engages with the general public and media debate on relevant issues:
- 6 ebulletins
- 9 TV appearances
- 35+ radio interviews
- 45+ print news stories
Our attention was also taken up by the longer-term sustainability of the organisation. The generous support of Atlantic Philanthropies and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust will come to an end after 2016, and unless IPRT accesses new sources of support, we will be unable to maintain our current levels of activity and programme of work. Some of the work during 2015 included:
- Improvements to online donations facility
- Membership drives
- Direct email appeals
- Seeking corporate sponsorship and in-kind support for events
- Launch of the Friends of IPRT network
- Research and applications to grant foundations
All of this work was achieved alongside responding to queries from prisoners and their families, answering queries from people with unspent convictions, constant monitoring of media, policy and relevant legislation, together with all the day-to-day work that comes with running an organisation.
Not bad for a small team of just four staff, achieved through hard work and the support of our volunteer board and interns!
If you value the contribution IPRT has made over recent years, and believe our work should continue into the future, please consider showing your support by becoming a member or becoming a Friend of IPRT or simply making a donation.
If you would like to know more about how we spend donations, please contact Deirdre Malone, our Executive Director.