IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Youth Justice

Artane Industrial School

In accordance with international human rights standards, and in particular in line with the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, custody for children should only be used as a last resort and for the minimum required period of time. International law stipulates that all efforts should be made to apply alternatives to detention to ensure that such a measure is only used in exceptional circumstances.

In Ireland, the Children Act 2001 recognizes the principle of detention as a last resort. The Act prohibits the imprisonment of children and the Criminal Justice Act 2006 amends the 2001 Act to make provision for all children less than 18 years of age to be detained in Children Detention Schools under the auspices of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. In 2007, responsibility for existing Children Detention Schools was transferred to the Irish Youth Justice Service, which, in turn, transferred to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs at the end of 2011.

A vital part of  IPRT's work has been to remove children over 16 years from St Patrick’s Institution, part of the prison system. The practice of detention of boys between 16 and 18 years of age in St. Patrick’s institution has been criticised by national and international organisations on a continuous basis.

In 2012, following years of sustained advocacy by many organisations, including IPRT, along with national and international bodies, the detention of boys aged under 17 at St Patrick's Insitution ended. On 7th April 2017, Minister for Justice and Equality, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald TD officially closed St. Patrick’s Institution.

We continue to work towards the change in youth justice policies, and continue to engage in wider policy and practice issues relating to youth justice, such as the provision of alternatives to detention, diversion and early intervention programs.

Guardian: Where's the victim support for troubled perpetrators? 17th February 2010

A Guardian article highlights the familiar story that many young offenders are themselves victims. Read more

The Irish Times: Youth Crime 1st February 2010

At last, measures to supervise and rehabilitate troubled juveniles within their own communities and keep them out of prison are having a measurable effect. Read more

NY Times: 'City Signals Intent to Put Fewer Teenagers in Jail' 20th January 2010

The mayor's office has announced plans to merge the city’s Department of Juvenile Justice into its child welfare agency. This signals a "more therapeutic approach toward delinquency" that will see fewer young offenders sent to prison. Read more

NYCI: Working With Young People Involved in the Juvenile Justice System 14th December 2009

A useful resource created for those working with children, with special attention given to those children in conflict with the law. Read more

UK: 'Healthy Children, Safer Communities' 8th December 2009

A new cross-government strategy to promote the health and well-being of children and young people in contact with the youth justice system. Read more

U R Boss: new youth justice project from Howard League 3rd December 2009 YouTube

U R Boss is a ground breaking youth justice project in the UK that provides an enhanced legal service shaped by and for young people in custody and those recently released into the community. Read more

Launch of IPRT report on Detention of Children 30th November 2009

IPRT launched a new research report, 'Detention of Children in Ireland: International Standards and Best Practice' on 30th November 2009 at Pearse Street Library, Dublin 2. Read more

Ireland's Youth Justice in Action Solidarity Day: June 2009 20th November 2009 YouTube

Ireland's Youth Justice in Action Solidarity Day took place 17th June 2009. As part of their activities, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform was questioned on the continuing detention of 16 year olds in St Patrick's Institution. Read more

Report highlights concerns over care for asylum seeking children. 19th November 2009

A report by the Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan, highlights the inadequate service provision of care for asylum seeking children. Read more

Young offenders in custody provided with an opportunity to influence UK Crime Policy. 19th November 2009

A project designed to provide an opportunity for young people in custody to influence government policy on juvenile justice will be launched next week. Read more

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