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.

RTÉ Marian Finucane: Prisons in Ireland 28th August 2010

An in-depth discussion on imprisonment in Ireland, including its effectiveness (or not) as punishment, issues surrounding the availability of rehabilitation services (and information about services), drugs in prison and drug treatment in prison, and more. Read more

Management of sex offenders 21st August 2010

Following the media furore surrounding the scheduled release of a sex offender from prison, journalists turn their attention the treatment of sex offenders in prison, and the management of the offenders on release. Read more

IPRT Briefing: Reintegration of Prisoners in Ireland 13th July 2010 PDF documents

A short document making 12 key recommendations towards the necessary improvement of reintegration services in Ireland, thereby stemming the high rates of recidivism which sees 60% of prisoners return to prison. Read more

London: Justice reinvestment aids ex-prisoners and cuts reoffending 12th July 2010

A senior police officer has called for a radical reform of the criminal justice system, arguing that money should be taken from failing prisons and given to community-based schemes, led by police, to cut reoffending. Read more

UK: The Power Inside - the role of prison councils 9th July 2010

A new report, published by User Voice, argues that prisoners should be given more power to influence how prisons operate and to improve the UK’s record on rehabilitation. It shows that doing so can reduce complaints, segregation and encourage civic participation on release. Read more

Today FM: Housing of Sex Offenders 6th July 2010

Following the passing of a motion by Wicklow County Council to remove convicted sex offenders from the local authority housing list, Liam Herrick of IPRT joined Cllr Tom Fortune and Matt Cooper on Today FM's 'The Last Word'. Read more

Irish Times: Where the revolving door stops 5th July 2010 YouTube

A back-to-work course for former prisoners is bucking the trend of recidivism, writes Roisín Ingle in the 'Irish Times'. Trasna, a year-long back-to-work course, is designed to make former prisoners job ready... Read more

Irish Times: 'Public's right to know trumps privacy rights' 21st June 2010

Carol Coulter reports in 'The Irish Times' on a High Court judgment that ruled in favour of freedom of expression over an individual's right to privacy. Read more

Sunday Tribune: Sex offenders 'a greater risk if not housed' 10th June 2010

In an article in the 'Sunday Tribune', Ken Foxe, Public Affairs Correspondent, talks to Vivian Geiran, deputy director of the Probation Service about the issues that surround the securing of accommodation for high-risk sex offenders on their release from prison. Read more

Oireachtas Seminar on Reintegration of Offenders 2nd June 2010

A summary of IPRT's Oireachtas Seminar dealing with Spent Convictions, and other critical supports of the reintegration of offenders. Read more