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.

UK Report (2017) highlights ‘family ties at the heart of prison reform.’ 10th August 2017

Lord Farmer’s report (2017) The Importance of Strengthening Prisoners' Family Ties to Prevent Reoffending and Reduce Intergenerational Crime was undertaken in collaboration with the charity Clinks and commissioned by the UK government. The report aimed to establish a link between a prisoner’s relationship with family and a reduction in reoffending.… Read more

National Drugs Strategy: 'Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery 2017 – 2025’ 17th July 2017

The “Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery – a health led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025” strategy sets out the Government’s response to addressing the harm caused by substance misuse in society over the next eight years. Read more

Sentencing Proposals: Sexual Offences 11th July 2017

IPRT has a number of concerns about proposals included in the Criminal Justice (Commission of Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2017 [PMB], which may have unintended negative consequences. Read more

Prison Reform Trust UK Launch 'Out for Good' Report 2nd June 2017

A new report published on 2nd June 2017 by the Prison Reform Trust details findings of a two-year programme at HMP Brixton set up to give practical training and employment opportunities for prisoners and to develop ways in which prisons can set up sustainable training and employment networks to aid… Read more

Probation Service Launch their Joint Strategy on Social Enterprise 2017-2019 15th May 2017

The Probation Service in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Equality and the Irish Prison Service launched their strategy on social enterprise that will engage people with convictions in sustainable employment. Read more

Probation Service: Annual Report 2016 15th May 2017

The Probation Service Annual Report for 2016 has been published. Following on from the recommendation of the Strategic Review of Penal Policy (2014), in 2016 the Probation Service introduced on a pilot basis an integrated model of Community Service. Integrated Community Service allows for up to one third of Community… Read more

IPRT Position on Closure of the Training Unit 27th April 2017

IPRT welcomes recent initiatives by the Irish Prison Service to better support rehabilitation of prisoners, but expresses its serious concerns at the imminent closure of the Training Unit semi-open facility on 1st May 2017. Read more

Open Prisons 5th April 2017

Read here for information about open prisons including: international best practice, benefits, and use of open prisons in Ireland. Read more

UK: The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) ‘A Whole System Approach to Offender Management’ 16th December 2016

A report from the IPPR recommending a more interdepartmental rehabilitation approach. Read more

England & 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