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.

Complying with UN guidelines for meeting the needs of female prisoners 14th August 2012

Prison Reform International provides a checklist and guidelines for policy makers and practitioners in relation to UN Bangkok Rules. Read more

Scotland to build two new women's prisons to replace Corton Vale 14th August 2012

Overcrowded, unfit for purpose Corton Vale prison to be replaced with two new purpose-built units. Read more

Ten reasons for a gender-specific approach to criminal justice policy (USA) 30th July 2012

A recent report from the National Resource Centre for Justice Involved Women (NRCJIW) in the United States outlines the main reasons why gender-specific criminal justice policies make sense. Read more

Angiolini Commission on Women Offenders 3rd May 2012

A report recently published in Scotland provides a comprehensive overview of the distinct needs of women in detention, and provided a practical roadmap for radical and effective change. Read more

‘Hear and Now’: Women in the criminal justice system making changes in their lives. 12th January 2012

This report, published by 'Women in Prison' evaluates the different projects operated by the organisation, highlighting the positive outcomes of women specific support services. Read more

UK: Equal but Different? An Inspection of the Use of Alternatives to Custody for Women 14th October 2011

A joint report by the Inspectorate of Probation, Inspectorate of Prisons and the Crown Prosecution Service raises concern over the number of female offenders serving short term prison sentences and considers the extent to which non-custodial sanctions are being used in respect of female offenders in the UK. Read more

IPRT Briefing: Women in Detention 22nd August 2011 PDF documents

Women offenders generally present a lower risk to society, yet high numbers are being sent to prison for non-violent offences. This Briefing outlines the current provisions for female prisoners in Ireland, with eight clear recommendations for change. Read more

UK: 'Reforming Women's Justice' - new report from Women's Justice Taskforce 6th June 2011

A new report from the Women's Justice Taskforce and the Prison Reform Trust includes strong recommendations on how to reform the way in which women's offending is addressed, and makes a strong economic case for change. Read more

UK: Revolving Doors Agency - 'Counting the Cost' Report 13th May 2011

A new report by the Revolving Door Agency finds that an investment of £18 million per year in women’s centres could save almost £1 billion over five years. Read more

Women in the Criminal Justice System (ACJRD Conference Report) 17th February 2011

The ACJRD 13th Annual Conference Report was launched by the Hon. Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, who described it as an area of research and policy formation which doesn't receive a great deal of attention in Ireland. Read more

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