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.

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

Inspector of Prisons publishes Women Prisoners' Supplement to Standards 3rd February 2011

The Inspector of Prisons, Judge Reilly, has published the Women Prisoners' Supplement to the 'Standards for the Inspection of Prisons in Ireland'. The document outlines the "particular obligations to women prisoners emanating from international obligations, domestic laws and best practice." Read more

UK: Women in the Penal System 18th January 2011

Baroness Corston reviews progress on work with women in the penal system. Read more

Northern Ireland: A Strategy to Manage Women Offenders 29th October 2010

The Department of Justice in Northern Ireland has published its first strategy for dealing with female offenders. Read more

US: 'Mothers Behind Bars' 28th October 2010

'Mothers Behind Bars' is a new U.S. report from the Rebecca Project for Human Rights and the National Women's Law Center, analysing federal and state policies on conditions of confinement for pregnant and parenting women and the effect upon their children. Read more

Upcoming Events: Association for Criminal Justice Research and Development 30th September 2010

The ACJRD are hosting two events during October. The first of these is an education seminar on Tuesday 5 October 2010. This is followed by the ACJRD's thirteenth annual conference on Friday 15 October 2010. Read more

Under the Radar: Women with borderline personality disorder in prison 14th September 2010 PDF documents

One in four female prisoners struggle with borderline personality disorder, yet their needs are going unnoticed in the UK justice system, according to a report published by the Centre for Mental Health. Read more

Irish Examiner: Women in immigration-related detention suffer racist abuse from inmates 4th August 2010

Findings of a new report highlight that many female foreign nationals being held in the Dóchas Centre are subject to racial abuse Read more

Jailed women to get taste of freedom near their families 14th July 2010

Female prisoners in northern Scotland are being given the chance to live in open conditions close to their communities under a new scheme being launched next week. Read more

Homeless woman in forced release from Dóchas Centre 18th June 2010

'The Irish Times' has reported on a case of a woman prisoner who, after being granted Temporary Release, refused to leave the Dóchas Centre in Dublin as she had no home to go to, writes Agnieszka Martynowicz. Read more

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