Penal Policy

IPRT advocates for a national penal policy that is just and humane, promotes effective non-custodial responses to crime and uses prison as a last resort.

Our vision is for Irish penal policy that focuses on non-custodial responses to crime and has rehabilitation and social reintegration at its core. We believe that the emphasis of our penal system needs to move towards diverting young offenders and at risk groups away from offending behaviour at the entry points to the penal system.

We work towards securing long-term commitment to a coherent, evidence-informed, and effective penal policy, underpinned by international best practice. Effectiveness in this context is taken to mean the approaches to offending behaviour which reduce the risk of re-offending and which are seen to have the greatest social and economic benefits while minimising potential social and economic harm.

Key issues for IPRT in relation to the development of Irish penal policy over recent years have included highlighting the rapid expansion of our prison population from 2007 to 2011 (and again in 2018) and promoting alternatives to custody through research, advocacy and policy work. 

We also engage in public and political debate around crime and punishment to build more informed debate and counteract the demonization of offenders. Some of our media appearances are detailed here.  

Scotland: Extension of the presumption against short custodial sentences 17th May 2019

The Scottish Government has today officially announced plans to extend the current presumption against short custodial sentences. Read more

RESCALED: Movement for small scale detention 14th May 2019

RESCALED, launched in April 2019, advocates for a small-scale, differentiated approach to prisons, with community integration at its core. Read more

UK: A study of the impact of a presumption against custodial sentences of three months or less in Scotland 8th May 2019

Crest evaluates the impact of the introduction of a presumption against the use of custodial sentences of three months or less in Scotland in 2011. Read more

Doubling up in cells is an ineffective and short-term response to overcrowding 3rd May 2019

IPRT repsonse to reports of recategorisation of single cells to deal with overcrowding. Read more

US: ‘Can we downsize our prisons and jails without compromising public safety?’ Findings from California’s Prop 47 1st May 2019

After a referendum was passed in 2014 in California to recategorise some nonviolent offences as misdemeanours, rather than felonies, what have the effects been on the crime rate? Read more

Publication of the Seventh Report of the Implementation Oversight Group 19th April 2019

The Seventh Report of the Implementation Oversight Group to the Minister for Justice and Equality has been published by the Department of Justice. Read more

Cancellation of ‘super-prison’ plans welcomed by IPRT 16th January 2019

IPRT has welcomed the cancelling of 'super-prison' plans for Thornton hall, stating that the news demonstrates positive progress in Irish penal policy over the last 10 years. Read more

Publication of the Sixth Report of the Implementation Oversight Group 10th September 2018

The Sixth Report of the Implementation Oversight Group has been published by the Department of Justice and Equality. Read more

Press Release: Increasing numbers in Irish prisons undermines safety and rehabilitation 26th June 2018

IPRT reacts to the publication of the 2017 Annual Reports of the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service. Read more

Report on Penal Reform and Sentencing 10th May 2018

Many of the issues raised by IPRT during our hearing before the Committee are included in the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality report on Penal Reform and Sentencing. Read more

viewed here