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.