4th December 2023
In an Irish Examiner article on 4 December 2023, IPRT Executive Director, Saoirse Brady, responded to the answer that Minister for Justice, Deputy Helen McEntee, gave to a Parliamentary Question asked by Deputy Patrick Costello which requested the number of days educational programmes were prevented from happening due to staff shortages.
IPRT criticised the figures, saying that previously promised funding to support people attending education within prisons has not materialised.
“Education is a vital aspect of human development and is a basic human right. Time and time again, research has shown that people who participate in education and training programmes are less likely to return to prison.
Two-thirds of all people committed to prison are there for less than 12 months, making it more difficult for prison services to provide meaningful educational services.
Avoiding sending people to prison on short sentences where possible and focusing on more community-based sanctions is key to reducing the pressures of overcrowding in prison and the knock-on impacts this has, such as the delivery of meaningful education for people on longer sentences.
Both shortfalls in staffing and “severe overcrowding” are detrimental to education and it is undermining the positive work carried out across prisons."