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.

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

UK: Prison Reform Trust releases three year strategy for reducing imprisonment of women 26th November 2012

Today the Prison Reform Trust in the UK launched a YouGov opinion poll which appears to demonstrate strong support for the use of health measures as an effective way to tackle women’s offending. The results coincide with the launch of PRT's own new strategy for reforming women's justice. Read more

The Independent investigates: Mothers & Prison 17th September 2012

A week long Special 'Independent' investigation on mothers in prison. Read more

Inquiry on girls: From courts to custody (UK) 20th August 2012

Report by Howard League for Penal Reform suggests girls are 'pigeon-holed into a criminal justice system designed for the male majority'. Read more