IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Penal Policy

IPRT believes that there is a need for a clear and coherent Irish penal policy, which sets out both the strategic goals of the penal system and the function of each element of the system.

Our vision is for an Irish penal system which respects the rights of all stakeholders in that system and where imprisonment is a sanction of last resort. In general, we believe that the emphasis of our penal system needs to move towards focussing on diverting young offenders and at risk groups away from offending behaviour at the entry points to the penal system.

IPRT believes that penal policy should be underpinned by evidence of what has been demonstrated to be effective both in Ireland and in other jurisdictions. 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 challenging aspects of the proposed prison building programme, and highlighting the rapid expansion of our prison population from 2007 to 2011.

For a detailed report on how IPRT successfully challenged Ireland's penal expansion strategies, see here.

IPRT Position on Closure of the Training Unit 27th April 2017

IPRT welcomes recent initiatives by the Irish Prison Service to better support rehabilitation of prisoners, but expresses its serious concerns at the imminent closure of the Training Unit semi-open facility on 1st May 2017. Read more

Open Prisons 5th April 2017

Read here for information about open prisons including: international best practice, benefits, and use of open prisons in Ireland. Read more

Parole Bill 2016 21st June 2016

The Parole Board is to be given statutory footing in a new Private Member's Bill brought before the Dáil this month. Read more

U.S. Survey finds that majority of voters want a reduction in the prison population 20th October 2015

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) today released results from a new national survey focused on criminal justice reform. Commissioned by the ACLU and administered by the Benenson Strategy Group, the national survey was conducted from June 2-6, 2015. All respondents were registered voters who are likely to vote in… Read more

UK: Prison Reform Trust, ‘Deep Custody: Segregation Units and Close Supervision Units in England and Wales’ 1st October 2015

Dr Sharon Shalev and Kimmett Edgar, in collaboration with the Prison Reform Trust UK has released a report on the conditions inherent to segregation and close supervision units in England and Wales. Read more

The moral failures of America's prison-industrial complex 20th July 2015

An article in the Economist explains the moral issues of the mass-incarceration of Americans. Read more

Strategic Review on Penal Policy - Final Report 18th September 2014

The Final Report of the Strategic Review on Penal Policy was published by Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD on 17 Sept 2014. Read more

UK Report: ‘We should operate with a Presumption Against Imprisonment’ 11th August 2014 PDF documents

Prison should not be the ‘default sentence’, leading UK criminal justice experts argued in a report recently published (July 3rd 2014). Read more

Scotland: New monitoring group replaces prison visiting committees 1st May 2013

A new independent monitoring system is to be established in Scotland, replacing the current system of prison visiting committees. Read more

Joint Oireachtas Committee Report on Penal Reform 27th March 2013

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality launched its Sub-Committee Report on Penal Reform on March 27th March 2013 Read more