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Penal Reform Trust to brief TDs on Prison Privatisation Evidence

14th October 2003

The Irish Penal Reform Trust will hold a closed briefing session today for TDs to review the international evidence on prison privatisation.  The briefing session comes three weeks after a group of prominent Irish experts in criminology, penology, law and human rights called upon Minister Michael McDowell to publicly state his opposition to private prison plans. 

"The IPRT believes that future plans for the prison service must be based upon sound international evidence and best practice," said IPRT Executive Director, Rick Lines.  "The international evidence of prison privatisation shows that overall these schemes have failed to deliver on the promise of more cost effective and efficient prisons.  The briefing will review this evidence, and discuss the IPRT's perspective on the development of a prison service that truly reflects good practice and human rights."

Joining the IPRT for the briefing will be Mr. Stephen Nathan, who is considered the international independent authority on prison privatisation. A journalist and researcher, he is editor of Prison Privatisation Report International, a newsletter published by the Public Services International Research Unit at the University of Greenwich, London.  Mr. Nathan has monitored the international growth of the private corrections industry since its inception in the early 1980s, and is the author of numerous reports and articles in the UK and abroad.

Recent statements from the Minister and Prison Director Sean Aylward that only prisoner transport is being considered for privatisation have not satisfied the IPRT's concerns.  "Director Aylward was very clear in earlier media reports that the complete privatisation of prisons was an option under consideration.  While both he and the Minister have now adjusted their statements in the face of public criticism, the truth is that neither has categorically ruled out the introduction of private prisons in the state," said Mr. Lines. "We have also seen recent reports that building new prisons under Public-Private Partnerships is being discussed.  PPP is simply another form of privatisation. All of these issues will be discussed with the TDs."

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