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Momentum for prison reform must be maintained – IPRT

27th September 2018

MEDIA ADVISORY

Momentum for prison reform led since 2011 by Irish Prison Service Director General must be maintained.

On the announcement that the Director General of the Irish Prison Service Mr. Michael Donnellan is to step down end November 2018, the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has today warmly acknowledged the significant reforms achieved since his appointment to the post almost 7 years ago, and emphasised that this must continue under future leadership of the service. The Director General’s vision has been instrumental to positive progress in penal policy since 2011, and IPRT looks forward to the continuation of this programme of reform to support a safer, more effective and more equitable justice system in Ireland.

Responding today to the announcement of the Director General’s resignation, due to take effect on 30 November 2018, Deirdre Malone, Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust said:

“Since his appointment as Director General almost 7 years ago, Michael Donnellan has led a programme of progressive prison reform that is focused on building safer communities rather than building more and more prison spaces. He has played a key leadership role in promoting joined-up inter-agency approaches to offender management, innovative structured release programmes, and post-release rehabilitation and supports.”

“He has also overseen structural improvements across the prison estate, including the near abolition of slopping out, and a significant reduction in the number of people held in solitary confinement. His compassion for families of prisoners and commitment to prevention and early intervention approaches are to be commended.”

“Nevertheless, many serious issues remain in the prison system. Often the solution lies outside prison walls, including in the critical areas of mental health care and addictions treatment. It is critical now that the positive trajectory we have seen since 2011 is maintained, and that progress is not reversed. We look forward to engaging robustly with the current and future leadership of the Irish Prison Service, along with all other stakeholders, to ensure the momentum for prison reform is not lost.”

“IPRT thanks Michael Donnellan for his positive leadership over the past 7 years, and wishes him the very best in his future endeavours.”

While many progressive reforms in Ireland’s penal system have been achieved since 2011, a number of critical goals remain, including:

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NOTES FOR EDITORS:

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) is Ireland's leading non-governmental organisation campaigning for the rights of everyone in prison and the progressive reform of Irish penal policy, with prison as a last resort.

On Friday 26th October 2018 at 10.30am, IPRT will launch our second annual Progress in the Penal System report at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, 16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7.

Progress in the Penal System 2018 provides a comprehensive analysis of human rights and best practice in the Irish penal system. The first report (PIPS 2017) developed 35 standards against which the prevailing situation in Ireland’s penal system is tracked and monitored on an annual basis. More details here: http://www.iprt.ie/contents/3323

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