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.

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

IPRT gives cautious welcome to proposed Prisoner Complaints system 8th August 2012

IPRT today has given a cautious welcome to proposals for a new Prisoner Complaints system. Read more

IPRT calls for Parole Board reform 7th August 2012

The Parole Board should operate independent of government and on a statutory basis. Read more

Drug-related deaths in Ireland third highest among 30 European countries 31st July 2012

Ireland's high rate of drug-related deaths is avoidable and challenges current policy approaches. Read more

Reducing prisoner 'gratuity' is negative, miserly and punitive 31st July 2012

IPRT Board member, Dr Kevin Warner, outlines why reducing prisoner 'gratuity' is a complex and far-reaching issue. Read more

Reducing Imprisonment Rates - Lessons from Europe 20th June 2012

A new report investigates the most effective ways to reduce the secular rise in British imprisonment rates. Read more

JCFJ Report: 'The Irish Prison System - Vision, Values, Reality' 14th March 2012

A new report from the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice provides an in-depth analysis of the prison system and outlines 15 recommendations for the future, calling for a radical change in prison policy. Read more

US: Recommendations for reducing incarceration through evidence-based policies 15th August 2011

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has recently published a report making a series of evidence based recommendations on how states can reduce incarceration, reducing both costs and crime rates. Read more

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