IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Women in Detention

Women make up a very small proportion of those who appear before the courts on criminal charges in Ireland and of those who are imprisoned. On average, women make up around 3.5% of the prison population, with a large number of committals concerning non-violent offences. Additionally, the majority of sentences are short-term (up to a year). However, the impact of even short-term imprisonment on these women and their families is profound. The economic and social costs to society at large arising from the imprisonment of women are also significant.

Moreover, while overall prison numbers have stabilised in recent years, the numbers of women committed to prison have continued to accelerate - an increase of 8.9% in 2013 on 2012 figures - including significant numbers imprisoned for failing to pay court-ordered fines. In 2013, 83% of female sentenced committals were for failure to pay court-ordered fines.

Major concerns remain in relation to overcrowding in the Dóchas Centre and the inadequate conditions of women prisoners in Limerick Prison, and also in relation to immigration detention. Above all, IPRT remains committed to working towards major policy change in relation to imprisonment of women in Ireland, with a central focus on the provision of alternatives to detention.

IPRT is a member of the Women in Prison Reform Alliance, which is committed to advancing the protection of the rights of women in the criminal justice system.

RTÉ: Women on the Inside 5th September 2014 YouTube

A new two-part documentary series, filmed behind the walls of Ireland's women prisons, depicts life inside - tune in on Mon 8th Sept and Mon 15th Sept. Read more

“Proportionate, informed and timely interventions designed to meet the needs of women”- Prison Reform Trust 27th March 2014

The Prison Reform Trust published “Brighter Futures: Working together to reduce women’s offending”. This briefing highlights the specific needs of women in contact with the criminal justice system and profiles existing initiatives and partnerships within the United Kingdom that seek to deal more effectively with women’s offending. Read more

The Joint Probation Service & Irish Prison Service Strategy: "An Effective Response to Women who Offend" 6th March 2014

The Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service published their joint strategy on female offenders today. Read more

IPRT Position Paper 10: Women in the Criminal Justice System 5th December 2013

Towards a non-custodial approach Read more

Re-designing the Pattern: Women and the Criminal Justice System 4th December 2013

SEMINAR: Minister of State Kathleen Lynch TD launched a new IPRT paper on Wed 4th Dec 2013, entitled 'Women and the Criminal Justice System - Towards a Non-Custodial Approach' as part of a half-day seminar on women in the criminal justice system. Read more

Tracking the Needs and Service Provision for Women Ex-Prisoners 29th July 2013

The ACJRD has published a new report on research conducted with female prisoners serving short sentences in the Dóchas Centre. Read more

UK: Targeted support for women offenders 27th March 2013

UK Justice Minister, Helen Grant, has published a report outlining her key priorities and strategic objectives for female offenders. Read more

UK: Report assesses UK government compliance with the Bangkok Rules 13th March 2013

Women in Prison have published a report on the women’s custodial estate in the UK from 2011-2012, showing that little has fundamentally changed in the approach to women in prison since the publication of Baroness Jean Corston’s report in 2007. Read more

UK: Guide launched to assist professionals in recognising and responding to the health and wellbeing needs of women offenders 27th February 2013

Mental health charity Together has launched a new common sense guide that offers criminal justice staff the tools to ensure women’s health and well-being needs are not missed. Read more

Penal Reform International criticises CEDAW Committee’s lack of focus on women as defendants 22nd February 2013

Penal Reform International (PRI) criticised the CEDAW Committee's focus on women as victims, overlooking the rights of female defendants Read more

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