Irish Penal Reform Trust

Party manifesto analysis 2020: Green Party

The Green Party launched its election manifesto, 'Towards 2030: A Decade of Change', on Saturday 25th January 2020. The manifesto can be accessed here.

Below, IPRT analyses relevant proposals in ‘Health’, p.53, and ‘Justice’, p.61.

Analysis of individual policy proposals:

12.3 Mental Health

IPRT supports the Green Party’s proposed commitment to implementing full Community Mental Health Teams, as outlined in A Vision for Change. Improved services in the community would decrease the number of people with a mental illness coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

See PIPS 2019, Standard 13 – Mental Healthcare.

12.4 Drugs Policy

IPRT welcomes the proposed shift from a criminal justice approach to public health approach in terms of drug policy, and the proposed release of non-violent, minor drug offenders. See IPRT’s submission on Ireland’s approach to possession of limited quantities of certain drugs. See also IPRT’s discussion paper Community Service in Ireland: A qualitative exploration of one alternative to short-term imprisonment.

14.5 Penal Reform

  • Spent Convictions

IPRT strongly endorses the proposal to review the Spent Convictions Act 2016 with a view to extending the range of convictions which may become spent – although this is already underway by way of the Criminal Justice (Rehabilitative Periods) Bill 2018, now at Committee stage. IPRT’s view is that it is critical that this Bill should form part of the next Programme for Government, to remove disproportionate barriers from people who want to move on with their lives. More information on IPRT’s Spent Convictions campaign here.

  • Prevention

IPRT welcome the broad recognition that the root causes of crime are often associated with socioeconomic disadvantage. See IPRT’s position paper Shifting Focus: From Criminal Justice to Social Justice – Building Better and Safer Communities.  

  • Prison Visiting Committees

IPRT supports the proposed review of the existing functions, powers, appointment procedures and reporting processes for prison visiting committees.

See PIPS 2019, Standard 24 – Inspections and Monitoring.

  • Youth Justice

IPRT fully supports the proposal of the Green Party to increase the age limit for the application to the Garda Youth Diversion Programme to 24. A significant body of international research shows that young adults are more at risk of becoming involved in offending behaviour, and that prison is often an inappropriate and counterproductive means of dealing with young adults. Interventions and good practice that have proven successful in the Irish youth justice system should be extended to young adults aged 18-24.

For more information about IPRT's research on more effective approaches to offending by young people aged 18-24, grounded in emerging evidence and best practice, see here. IPRT and the Criminal Bar Association recently hosted a seminar on developing youth justice, see here.

  • Independent Complaints Process

IPRT fully supports the proposed commitment to introducing an independent complaints process for prisoners. Despite numerous recommendations for prisoners to have access to an external independent complaints mechanism, including by both domestic and international human rights bodies, there remains no recourse for prisoners to make or appeal a complaint to an external body.

See PIPS 2019, Standard 23 – Independent Complaints and Appeal Mechanism.

  • Accountability

IPRT strongly welcomes the commitment of the Green Party to ratify and implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT). Ireland signed the OPCAT in 2007, but has so far failed to ratify it. For more detail on IPRT's position on prison accountability and the evidence which informs it, see here. IPRT held a conference on 'Securing Accountability: Building effective prison monitoring, inspection, and complaints systems' in November 2015. See here. See IPRT’s Statement of Principles on Legislation to Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture. See also OPCAT Ireland.

See PIPS 2019, Standard 24 – Inspections and Monitoring.

  • Cap Prison Numbers

IPRT strongly endorses the proposal to bring forward legislation providing for an agreed cap to prisoner numbers in all institutions and a review of current out-of-cell time for prison populations. The return to overcrowding in closed prisons in Ireland has been of serious concern to IPRT in recent years.

See PIPS 2019, Standard 3 – Safe Custody Limits and Standard 16 – Out-of-cell Time.

  • Healthcare in Prison

The Green Party acknowledges access to medical services, drugs and alcohol treatment and in particular, mental health services for prisoners needs to be improved. People in prison have a right to equivalence of care in the community.

See PIPS 2019, Standard 12 – Access to Healthcare Services.

 


 

For IPRT's 'Smart Justice, Safer Communities' Policy Proposals 2016-2021, click here.

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