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 Paper 1: Thornton Hall 2nd June 2008 PDF documents

A Position Paper setting out IPRT's position on Thornton Hall. Read more

Putting Prison in its Place 5th November 2005 PDF documents

This address, given to the Annual Conference of the Irish Association for the Study of Delinquency, argues that the building of Thornton Hall prison is "at odds with the requirements of necessity, parsimony and proportionality ... and reinforces the idea of prison as the centre of the penal system rather… Read more

Impact of Parental Imprisonment on Children 28th June 2002

The Centre for Social and Educational Research, DIT, released a report investigating the effects of parental imprisonment on children. Despite the fact that those directly affected by imprisonment far exceed the number of those who are actually serving custodial sentences the topic has to date received little formal attention in… Read more

Crime and poverty: Submission to the National Crime Forum 30th January 1998 PDF documents

This article portrays the Combat Poverty Agency’s appreciation for the establishment of the long needed National Crime Forum for the creation of public policy on crime and the responses to crime. Read more

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