Reintegration of Offenders

IPRT promotes rehabilitation and social integration as central concerns of Irish penal policy.

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. 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.

England: Prison Councils to enable prisoners to participate 18th September 2009

"We need a structure that enables prisoners to participate," writes Mark Johnson of Uservoice on a pilot project that will see Prison Councils set up in three English prisons. Read more

Children Need Dads Too - Children with fathers in prison 11th September 2009 PDF documents

A new publication from the Quakers United Nations Office identifies that children are heavily impacted by parental imprisonment, and greater attention should be given to their rights, needs and welfare in criminal justice policy and practice. Read more

Spent Convictions Scheme report launched 15th May 2009

The report of the Spent Convictions Group was launched on Thursday, 14th May, at the Law Society, Blackhall Place, by Mr. John Lonergan, Governor of Mountjoy Prison. Read more

Spent Convictions Bill to be Debated by Dail 17th December 2008

IPRT welcomes the introduction for second stage today in the Dáil of the Spent Convictions Bill 2007 Read more

IPRT Position Paper 2: Spent Convictions 20th November 2008 PDF documents

A Position Paper setting out IPRT's position on the proposal of a Spent Convictions Bill. Read more

Law Reform Commission: Report on Spent Convictions 31st July 2007

Under current law, records of criminal convictions of adults are permanent; this Report examines whether some very old convictions might be looked on as being “spent” or no longer relevant for certain purposes. Read more

HSE Report – Hazardous Journeys to Better Places 31st March 2006

An eighteen-month study conducted on drug-using women admitted to The Dochas Centre has identified several key issues regarding their care before, during and after admittance. Read more

IHRC: Extending the Scope of Employment Legislation-Criminal Convictions 1st May 2005 Word documents

A contribution from the IHRC on the review of the Employment Equality Act. The document concerns discrimination in employment for those who are vulnerable in our society, with a section concerning those with criminal convictions. Read more

Getting Out, Staying Out: The experiences of prisoners upon release 31st December 2004 PDF documents

This research by Community Technical Aid examines the significant problems faced by prisoners in their attempts to reintegrate themselves into Irish society. Read more

Prison and Homelessness: From a Cell to the Street 30th November 2003 PDF documents

This paper, commissioned by the Council for Research and Development, examines the relationship between homelessness and imprisonment and investigates how the link can be broken between these areas of marginalisation. Read more

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