The Minister for Justice and Equality has published key prison and probation statistics for 2017, along with a number of achievements during 2017, including:
- The end of the detention of children in adults prisons in Ireland in 2017
- An amendment to the Prison Rules, which entitles all prisoners to a minimum of two hours' out-of-cell time, including “an opportunity during that time for meaningful human contact”
- A reduction of 40.5% in numbers committed to prison compared to 2016, with a 73% reduction in those committed for non-payment of a court-ordered fine
- An increase of 7% in the number of Community Service Orders made to 2,215 in 2017
- Further roll-out of multi-agency approaches to offender management and rehabilitation
IPRT welcomes the achievements highlighted by Minister Flanagan, in particular the closure of St Patrick's Institution and the end to the detention of children in Wheatfield Place of Detention, an adult prison.
The significant reduction in the numbers committed to prison for failure to pay court-ordered fines is also very positive.
The increase in the number of Community Service Orders made is further welcome, along with the significant work completed in the community under the supervision of the Probation Service: 336,573 hours of community service performed in 2017 equivalent to 973 years of custodial sentencing.
However, while IPRT welcomes the reduction in the numbers held in solitary confinement, we remain concerned that 325 people were being held in cells for more than 21 hours per day in the most recent prison census (April 2017).
IPRT looks forward to the publication of the Joint Irish Prison Service / Probation Service Strategic Plan 2018-2020 and to commenting in more detail on the Annual Reports for 2017.
- Dept of Justice: 'Minister Flanagan welcomes progressive achievements of Irish Prison Service and Probation Service in 2017' (June 2018)
- Irish Prison Service: Census of Restricted Regimes April 2018 – Report
- IPRT: Minister introduces Amendment to Prison Rules: “Meaningful Human Contact” (July 2017)