The Irish Prison Service (IPS) recently published its Strategic Plan for the next three years. The IPS aims to ensure a safer prison community, for staff and prisoners alike, along with dignity of care and the rehabilitation of prisoners.
The plan focuses on four keys areas to achieve its goals: ’Staff Support’, ‘Prisoner Support’, ‘Victim Support’, and ‘Enhancing Organisation Capacity’:
- ‘Staff Support’ engages prison staff in the development of the organisation and sets out to support them each step of the way. This approach will be taken in line with the principles of fairness, equality, and security.
- ‘Prisoner Support’ focuses on the rehabilitation of prisoners in order to facilitate their future reintegration into their communities. Effective medical support, in the form of psychology and treatment for addiction, is envisaged. The plan also addresses the particular needs of older prisoners, young offenders, the mentally ill, travellers and other minority groups.
- ‘Victim Support’ sets out to ensure that the voices of victims of crime will be heard. It incorporates the practice of restorative justice*, which has proved to be immensely effective in responding to the needs of victims, not to mention the needs of offenders, in other jurisdictions.
- Finally, ‘Enhancing Organisation Capacity’ targets the systems, structures, cultures, and procedures within the prison system, including the provision of essential services and supports to prisoners. To this end, the IPS will continue its collaboration with the Health Service Executive.
Throughout the plan, the IPS emphasises respect of the dignity of prisoners. It shares IPRT’s conviction that solitary confinement should only be used when absolutely necessary, and that every effort be taken to mitigate any potential harm to the prisoner as a result of this procedure.
In addition, the plan urges the importance of maintaining the general health of prisoners, engagement between them and their families, the establishment of an independent complaints mechanism, adherence to international human rights standards, and the professionalism of prison staff. This focus will go a long way towards ensuring a safe and an effective rehabilitative environment for prisoners.
The report is available here.