IPRT advocates for an Irish penal policy that is focused on non-custodial responses to crime, and which has rehabilitation and social integration at its centre.
Ireland systematically overuses imprisonment as punishment. While the average prison population on any given day in Ireland is close to the European average, the rates of committal to prison on sentence – the ‘flow’ of prisoners through the system – means that Ireland is one of the most punitive criminal justice systems in Europe. Additionally, the majority of people are sent to prison for short-term sentences, often for less than 6 months. Irish prisons are chronically overcrowded, and many prisoners who are sent to prison could be more effectively dealt with using non-custodial means.
IPRT believes that the best way of limiting the use of imprisonment in Ireland is the development of an integrated system of alternatives to custody. Alternatives to custody could include the wider use of suspended sentences, community service orders, etc.
The Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) Act 2011 introduced a requirement that the courts consider imposing CSOs for offences that would ordinarily attract a sentence of 12 months’ imprisonment or less. However, the Annual Reports of the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service since the enactment of the Amendment indicate that the legislation has so far not had the desired impact on reducing the use of imprisonment for less serious offences.
IPRT will continue to promote an increase in the use of non-custodial effective responses to crime as a means of reducing the numbers in detention, without net-widening.
22nd May 2021
Following a report in the Irish Examiner about a person formerly addicted to heroin appearing before the courts charged with possession of €4 worth of cannabis, thejournal.ie spoke to advocacy groups working in the areas of drug addiction and penal reform, including IPRT.
2nd April 2021
IPRT and Mental Health Reform welcome the joint announcement by the Ministers for Justice and Health, and Ministers of State with responsibility for mental health and the national drugs strategy, of the establishment of a High Level Taskforce to consider the mental health and addiction challenges of persons interacting with the criminal justice system.
12th March 2021
A guest blog post from academic researchers Dr. Ian D. Marder (Maynooth University) and Dr. Eoin Guilfoyle (University of Bristol) on the principles that might underpin sentencing guidelines in Ireland.
4th March 2021
MEDIA ADVISORY: IPRT welcomes the publication of a new Probation Service research report on the prevalence of mental health problems among persons under probation supervision.
2nd March 2021
IPRT welcomed the opportunity to make a submission to the Probation Service on its upcoming Strategy.
1st February 2021
The briefing examines to what extent the specific developmental needs of young adults are taken into account by courts when making decisions about whether to remand defendants into custody.
29th January 2021
The new Restorative Justice: Strategies for Change website contains case studies, information from a mapping exercise, resources, and will feature all relevant news on restorative practices in Ireland
6th January 2021
The Sentencing Academy (England and Wales) has published a report examining research findings on the effectiveness, particularly in terms of reducing re-offending, of three sentencing disposals.
17th November 2020
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has published statistics on three-year reoffending (recidivism) for those sentenced to probation in 2014, in conjunction with one-year reoffending rates for the years 2008-2016.
9th September 2020
IPRT was invited by the Oireachtas Special Committee on COVID-19 Response to make a submission on how the State's legislative framework contributed to the response to COVID-19 and how the legislative framework might be improved upon.