Irish Penal Reform Trust

RESCALED: Movement for small scale detention

14th May 2019

RESCALED was launched in April 2019. The project aims to reform detention as a form of punishment in Europe, with a mission of having all prisons replaced with detention houses (smaller, local ‘prisons’).

RESCALED advocates for detention which is/has:

  • Small scale: Small scale enables tailor-made reintegration pathways, allows for a more personal approach and provides more opportunities for prisoners to take responsibility and to interact with the community.
  • Differentiation: Differentiation means that prisoners are placed in the right security level and offered the most suitable programs. This has proven to work best in terms of facilitating their reintegration and rehabilitation and to be cost effective.
  • Community integration: Community integration implies a two-way interaction between the detention house and the community, so prisoners can make use of the services in society and each detention house has an added value for the local neighbourhood.

This vision for the future of imprisonment is in line with the vision IPRT has outlined in our flagship human rights in the penal system project ‘PIPS’, where we set the expected standard for each individual prison population in the prison estate in Ireland to stand at no more than 300, with an ideal population level of 200-250. Research shows that smaller prisons reflect community life more closely, reduce the likelihood of violence, as well as facilitating the development of positive staff–prisoner relationships.

In addition, IPRT advocates for prisoners in the Irish prison estate having access to the least restrictive prison security settings (determined through risk assessment) as it provides for normalisation and reduces the risk of institutionalisation, making the transition to life on the outside easier.

For more on RESCALED and their sustainable approach to detention, visit their website here


Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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