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.

Scotland: Guide for People with Learning Disabilities and the Criminal Justice System 11th August 2011

The Scottish Government has recently published a Guide aimed at improving the relationship between people with learning disabilities and the criminal justice system. Read more

Home Detention Curfew and Open Prisons in Scotland 11th July 2011

Two schemes have been operating in Scotland providing conditional liberty to prisoners to maximise the opportunity for a safe and effective transition into society at the end of their sentence and to relieve the pressure of high prison populations. Read more

Drop in Wisconsin's Prison Population 13th January 2011

Wisconsin's prison population dropped significantly in 2010, reversing a trend of ballooning incarceration that had been predicted to continue for years. Read more

A Label for Exclusion: Support for alcohol misusing offenders. 8th January 2011

A policy paper released today by the Centre of Mental health identifies areas and practical examples of how, in a changing and uncertain policy and commissioning landscape, the joint commissioning and delivery of alcohol interventions for offenders in the community might be productively developed. Read more

Temporary release procedures 8th December 2010

A report delivered by the current Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, to the Minister for Justice three months ago (only released today) identified “a litany of flawed systems” within the justice system which combined with individual lapses of judgment and ended in the death of Mr. Noel Keegan, who… Read more

Spending Cuts and Crime Implications: IPRT Submission Budget 2011 3rd December 2010 Word documents

Ignoring the crime dimension to current financial decisions will have lasting negative effects for the Irish economy and society into the future. The IPRT Submission to Budget 2011 warns against false economies and the indirect costs of increasing marginalisation. Read more

Re-offending Statistics in England and Wales 11th November 2010

The UK’s Ministry of Justice recently released a paper entitled Compendium of Re-offending Statistics and Analysis aiming to reliably compare proven reoffending rates between offenders receiving short custodial sentences and offenders commencing a court order under probation supervision. Read more

RTÉ Marian Finucane: Prisons in Ireland 28th August 2010

An in-depth discussion on imprisonment in Ireland, including its effectiveness (or not) as punishment, issues surrounding the availability of rehabilitation services (and information about services), drugs in prison and drug treatment in prison, and more. Read more

Irish Times: Prison not the only answer 10th August 2010

There is much more justice to be yielded from alternatives to prison. Read more

IPRT Open Forum 2010: Exploding Prisoner Numbers 28th June 2010

The 2010 Open Forum event of the Irish Penal Reform Trust took place on Monday 28th June, 2010 at the Morrison Hotel, Ormond Quay, Dublin 1. Read more

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