Penal Policy

IPRT advocates for a national penal policy that is just and humane, promotes effective non-custodial responses to crime and uses prison as a last resort.

Our vision is for Irish penal policy that focuses on non-custodial responses to crime and has rehabilitation and social reintegration at its core. We believe that the emphasis of our penal system needs to move towards diverting young offenders and at risk groups away from offending behaviour at the entry points to the penal system.

We work towards securing long-term commitment to a coherent, evidence-informed, and effective penal policy, underpinned by international best practice. 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 highlighting the rapid expansion of our prison population from 2007 to 2011 (and again in 2018) and promoting alternatives to custody through research, advocacy and policy work. 

We also engage in public and political debate around crime and punishment to build more informed debate and counteract the demonization of offenders. Some of our media appearances are detailed here.  

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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