IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Reintegration of Offenders

Prison represents a serious restriction on the rights of the prisoner, quite apart from the deprivation of liberty. Incarceration often damages the prisoner’s social functioning, therefore contributing to his or her return to offending following release. Studies have shown that imprisonment has a damaging effect on the mental health of the prisoners, and can impair the ability to function in the outside world; prisoners can become institutionalised and therefore unable to live outside of the prison environment.

Imprisonment also carries with it profound negative social impacts on the prisoner’s family and on his or her community, and often the consequences of even a short period of imprisonment are permanent for both the prisoner and those close to him. Losing contact with family, employment and social or community services and networks, even for a short period, can have long-lasting negative effects. Research has shown that those communities to which most ex-prisoners return are those characterised by high levels of deprivation and least able to cope with their re-entry. IPRT believes that imprisonment can exacerbate such difficulties within such communities.

In this context, IPRT believes that appropriate preparation for release and post-release support play an important role in the successful return of former prisoners to their families, communities and the wider society. Two elements should always be considered: preparation during the course of the sentence (‘sentence-planning’) and coordinated support post-release. Preparation for release while still in prison should consider not only equipping prisoners with essential skills (such as work skills), but should also include making connections with the prisoner’s family and/or community outside of the prison environment, for example through the use of periods of temporary release.

IPRT believes that post-release support is crucial in the successful re-integration, and should link the former prisoner not only with potential employment opportunities but also with appropriate services in the community, for example with mental health services or substance abuse support groups. It should also consider support for prisoners’ families.

(Eng & Wales) 'Life in Prison:Contact with families and friends' 5th September 2016

HM Inspectorate of Prisons has published a new findings report detailing the importance for prisoners of maintaining relationships with those outside prison. Read more

Beyond Youth Custody Publish Practitioner Guide 23rd August 2016

Beyond Youth Custody has published a guide to help practitioners support the transition of young people from custody back into the community. Read more

Probation Service: Annual Report 2015 27th June 2016

A report setting out the work and achievements of The Probation Service for 2015. Read more

Parole Bill 2016 21st June 2016

The Parole Board is to be given statutory footing in a new Private Member's Bill brought before the Dáil this month. Read more

UK: Innovative Support Scheme for Short-term Prisoners Helps Reduce Re-offending Rates 10th March 2016

An independent evaluation carried out on a joint project between the Scottish Prison Service and a range of third sector partners has found the project helped to improve many aspects of prisoners lives and reduce re-offending rates. Read more

IPRT Briefing: Spent Convictions 8th January 2015

A short document outlining the current situation with regard to spent convictions and why enacting legislation is so important. Read more

Facing Forward report: ‘Sexual Trauma and Abuse: Restorative and Transformative Possibilities?’ 1st December 2014

Facing Forward today launched their ‘Sexual Trauma and Abuse: Restorative and Transformative Possibilities?’ report. Read more

Implementation Plan on the State's Response to Homelessness 22nd May 2014

State's 'Response to Homelessness' plan commits to doing more to prevent homelessness among vulnerable persons who are exiting institutional settings (especially prisons and care institutions). Read more

UK: Charities say computers can transform prisoner rehabilitation – new report: 29th October 2013

The Prison Reform Trust and Prisoners Education Trust have launched a joint report, arguing that controlled internet access can improve prisoners' outcomes in education, family contact, resettlement between prisons and recidivism. Read more

'The Prison Trap': Irish Times series on prison and mental health 17th September 2013

'The Irish Times' investigates how people with mental illness come into contact with the criminal justice system, tracing the cycle of criminalisation and undiagnosed mental health problems. Read more