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The Irish Times: Children’s Ombudsman calls for alternative to youth detention

14th August 2017

The Irish Times General Reporter Fiona Gartland wrote an article on the 14th August 2017 about the second day of the ‘Parnell Summer School 2017’ - the theme of which was Crime, Punishment and Justice. Dr Niall Muldoon, the Ombudsman for Children, spoke about the need to investigate alternatives to the detention of young people, and was quoted as saying that:

“We need to join the dots to ensure the most vulnerable are supported so they don’t grow up to become the most disadvantaged and I’m not sure we have that yet.”

According to the article, he praised the Garda diversion programme, which has helped to support 7,000 young people. However, he said evaluation of the programme could be more independent, and highlighted a lack of comprehensive data on outcomes. 

Fíona Ní Chinneide, Acting Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust is also reported in the article as speaking at the Parnell Summer School, on the topic of solitary confinement. She spoke of its negative impacts, and noted the recent reduction in the numbers of prisoners being held in isolation, which has decreased from 211 prisoners in 2013, to 44 prisoners in April of 2017. However, the issue of “single separation”, while not the same as solitary confinement, at Oberstown remains a point of concern.

To improve the situation, she recommended increased staff supports are needed including training in de-escalation techniques, stronger oversight is required, and also the provision of more activity for young people.

Read the full article here.

See also: Wicklow People, Summer school focused on crime and justice