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 3.8% of the prison population, with a large number of committals concerning non-violent offences. Additionally, the majority are detained on short-term sentences. 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, including significant numbers imprisoned for failing to pay court-ordered fines. In 2015, 89.9% of female sentenced committals to prison in Ireland 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. 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.

Ireland’s unequal treatment of women in the criminal justice system raised with the U.N. by IPRT 14th February 2017

ADVISORY: IPRT has raised Ireland's unequal treatment of women within the criminal justice system with U.N. CEDAW. Read more

IPRT Submission in Advance of the Examination of Ireland’s combined sixth and seventh periodic reports under CEDAW 13th February 2017

IPRT made a submission in advance of the examination of Ireland’s combined sixth and seventh periodic reports under CEDAW in January 2017. Read more

Norway: ‘Women in Prison: A Thematic Report about the conditions for female prisoners in Norway’ 20th January 2017

'Women in Prison'is the first thematic report published by the Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman under its UN mandate as the national preventive mechanism against torture and ill-treatment. Read more

UK: Report on the relationship between female offending and homelessness 28th September 2016

Report published by the Prison Reform Trust and Women in Prison states that upon release six out of ten women do not have homes to go to. Read more

England and Wales: Restorative Justice for Women in the Criminal Justice System 8th April 2016

A new research report by the Restorative Justice Council makes a series of recommendations for both practitioners and policy-makers on how to improve access to, and the experience of, restorative justice for females who have offended. Read more

CEDAW asks Irish government questions on women in prison 21st March 2016

On Wed 16th March, CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) published its 'List of Issues' for the Irish Government prior to the submission of the combined sixth and seventh periodic reports of Ireland. Read more

UK: Report into the distinct needs of young adult women in custody 26th February 2016

Prisons are failing to meet the distinct needs of young adult women (aged 18-24) and they should be treated differently to older women in custody, according to new research published by the Transition to Adulthood Alliance (T2A). Read more

England & Wales: Preventing unnecessary criminalisation of women. 14th July 2015

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) with support from The Howard League for Penal Reform has produced a report on the inquiry into preventing unnecessary criminalisation of women. Read more

Scotland: Further developments in the treatment of female offenders 23rd June 2015

Following the setting aside of earlier plans to create a large prison to house female offenders, Scotland has now announced plans to develop a community-based approach to custody for female offenders, as well as increased use of alternatives to custody. Read more

Scotland: New women's prison scrapped in favour of small community-based centres 26th January 2015

Plans for a new women's prison in Scotland have been scrapped, in favour of "smaller regional and community-based custodial facilities across the country". Read more