IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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IPRT recognises the critical role of sentencing in the penal system.

Our starting point is that imprisonment itself causes a number of serious social harms, therefore imprisonment should only be used sparingly at the point of sentencing and the numbers in prison should be reduced.

As a key strategic goal for IPRT, we aim to promote the embedding and extension of the principle that detention should only be used as a last resort, while remaining committed to retaining and supporting the principles of proportionality and judicial independence in sentencing.

The principle of parsimony in the use of imprisonment is reflected in section 96 of the Children Act 2001, which directs sentencing courts to use imprisonment only as a last resort. IPRT believes that this principle should also be enshrined in legislation for adult offenders and that there should be an onus on judges to exhaust all other options before imposing a custodial sentence. IPRT will be monitoring closely over the next few years how this principle is being applied in relation to the youth justice system.

In practice, we believe that greater transparency in sentencing can be achieved as well as better coordination between sentencing authorities and other agencies on the penal system.

Parole Bill 2016 21st June 2016

The Parole Board is to be given statutory footing in a new Private Member's Bill brought before the Dáil this month. Read more

US Study: Treating More Thefts as a Less-Serious Crime did not lead Property Crime to Increase 9th March 2016

Since 2001, more than 30 US states have raised the threshold on what can be charged as a serious theft. In a recent brief the PEW Charitable Trusts examined what impact, if any, this change had on the rates of theft in different states. Read more

US: Is Sending More to Prison an Effective Way to Reduce Crime? It’s complicated… 4th March 2016

During the early 1990’s, violent crime levels were at record highs in the United States, but have since fallen to levels not seen since the 1960’s. In this brief, the PEW Charitable Trusts survey nine leading US scholars for their view on the role that a massively increased prison population… Read more

U.S. Report: Ways of addressing the nation’s scale of incarceration 20th October 2015

The United States maintains its distinction as the nation with the highest rate of incarceration in the world. A report entitled, “The State of Sentencing 2014 Developments in Policy and Practice” was published by The Sentencing Project who are a national non-profit organization in the U S. The report documents… Read more

The moral failures of America's prison-industrial complex 20th July 2015

An article in the Economist explains the moral issues of the mass-incarceration of Americans. Read more

Irish Examiner, 'Significant' fall in the numbers being jailed' 28th December 2013

Figures up to the end of November show that there were nearly 15,000 committals in that period. Whereas, there were over 17,000 committals in the same period in 2012. Read more

CSO: Statistics on recidivism rates for prisoners released in 2008 18th December 2013

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has released figures on recidivism rates among prisoners released from custody of the Irish Prison Service in 2008. Read more

IPRT Position Paper 3: Mandatory Sentencing 7th August 2013

A Position Paper setting out IPRT's position on mandatory and presumptive sentencing. Read more

The Report on Mandatory Sentencing and Parole Board Reform 11th June 2013 PDF documents

The Report was conducted by The Law Reform Commission and is supported by The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) who have campaigned against mandatory and presumptive sentencing. Read more

ISIS Launch New Bulletin ‘Just Sentencing: News and Comment’ 20th March 2013

The Irish Sentencing Information System (ISIS) has launched a new bulletin written by Tom O’Malley B.L., aiming to keep readers informed of developments in sentencing in Ireland and abroad. Read more