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.

The role of sport in prisons: education, motivation and reintegration. 20th August 2012

A Prisoners Education Trust (UK) report indicates that sports in prisons offer opportunities beyond 'just the gym'. Read more

Urgent need for pre-release scheme for life sentenced prisoners in Northern Ireland 9th July 2012

Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland calls for the development of a step-down facility and pre-release scheme for life sentenced prisoners. Read more

UK: Integrated Offender Management - Effective alternatives to short sentences 4th July 2012

Integrated Offender Management (UK) initiative outlines effective strategies to address multiple barriers facing short-sentence prisoners. Read more

‘Discovering Desistance’ Exchange Seminar 21st May 2012

Guest Blog: Michelle Martyn, Research & Policy Officer with IPRT, reports on a recent event in Belfast. Read more

How and why people stop offending: discovering desistance 3rd May 2012

A recent study from Scotland explores how and why people stop committing crime; highlighting promising pathways for reintegration and creating safer societies. Read more

A Values Based Prison System: Spanish Delegate Visits Wheatfield Prison 3rd April 2012

GUEST BLOG: As part of a wider campaign to generate solutions to current social and economic problems in Ireland, Change Nation, an Ashoka initiative, hosted a visit by Spanish entrepreneur, Faustino Garcia Zapico on his idea of Units of Therapy and Education (UTE) and how this programme could be successfully… Read more

US: Connecticut report released on rates of sex offender recidivism 26th March 2012

A study released in February 2012 by the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management found that sex offenders released from prison in Connecticut are unlikely to return to prison for a new sex crime. Read more

Feasibility Report into Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) in Ireland 4th January 2012

This report, commissioned by the Probation Service, examines the use of Circles of Support and Accountability in jurisdictions where they are successfully operating and considers their feasibility in Ireland as a means of reintegrating sex offenders. Read more

RSA 'Transitions' - An Alternative Model of a not-for-profit community prison. 8th November 2011

UK Charity, the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (RSA), sets out an alternative model of a not-for-profit community prison that would provide custody and rehabilitation services on a single site, working with between 500 and 700 people at any one time. Read more

Garda Vetting and CAO applications 7th September 2011

Over 225 college courses offered through the CAO require Garda Vetting; in the absence of Spent Convictions legislation, this can present a potential barrier to those who may have committed a minor offence, no matter how long ago. Read more

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