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.

Irish Examiner: Calls for better services to stop convicts reoffending 26th May 2010

The launch of IPRT's Report on Reintegration of Prisoners in Ireland covered in the Irish Examiner. Read more

Irish Times: 60% of prisoners likely to reoffend, says report 25th May 2010

IPRT highlights the need for a greater commitment to the reintegration of prisoners. Read more

“It’s like stepping on a landmine…” - Reintegration of Prisoners in Ireland 24th May 2010

This report from IPRT assesses the current provision of reintegration services and support for prisoners before and after their release from prison, identifies key systemic failures, and makes 14 clear recommendations for necessary improvements. Read more

REPORT ON REINTEGRATION OF PRISONERS IN IRELAND 21st May 2010 PDF documents

IPRT are launching a new research report "It's like stepping on a landmine..." - Report on Reintegration of Prisoners in Ireland. The report assesses the current provision of reintegration services and support for prisoners on release from prison, identifies key systemic failures, and makes 14 recommendations for necessary improvements. Read more

Irish Times: Parents behind bars 18th May 2010

As Ireland’s prison population grows, more children are having to cope with the stigma and loneliness of a parent in jail, writes Sheila Wayman in 'The Irish Times'. Read more

Oireachtas debate on the use of Temporary Release 17th May 2010

Parliamentary questions regarding the numbers on temporary release and its usefulness. Read more

Irish Examiner: Project bridges the gap 14th May 2010

Since 1991, Dublin's Bridge Project has been working with persistent offenders and offering an alternative to prison. Read more

Mentoring, Social Capital and Desistance: A Study of Women Released from Prison 21st April 2010

New research explores the use of mentoring programmes in aiding reintegration of ex-prisoners. Read more

Herald Article Reiterates Need for Reintegration of Offenders 13th April 2010

Familiar figures demonstrate the lack of effective reintegration and the dire consequences. Read more

Prisons for the next generation 29th March 2010

With prisons under severe pressure from overcrowding, the government must take urgent steps to tackle the challenge of prisoner rehabilitation. This is the message at the heart of The Learning Prison, a new report that draws on the research of the RSA’s Prison Learning Network. Read more