2nd November 2023
In an Irish Times report, Emmet Malone reports on the publication of the Central Statistics Office research Circumstances of People Linked to Justice Sanctions which covers the period of 2025-2021.
IPRT Executive Director Saoirse Brady responded to the research,
"IPRT welcomes the publication of this important data on the circumstances of people linked to justice sanctions, which paints a picture of life after probation or prison. The focus on employment is welcome but it is striking that only one in four people who had served time in prison are actually linked with employment, with the majority reliant on a social welfare payment. While the data does not provide the reasons why this might be, we know that having to disclose a prior conviction when job-seeking impacts on employment prospects. However, there are opportunities to address this in law with the Criminal Justice (Rehabilitative Periods) Bill 2018 which has received cross-party support and would take a more proportionate response to disclosing old criminal records. This is one very practical step that we believe could remove barriers for people with experience of the criminal justice system and help more people get back into meaningful employment. Another key step would be to introduce an additional equality ground, namely, discrimination on the basis of a criminal conviction when accessing employment or services.
We were not surprised to read that people who had a probation order were more likely to be linked with employment than those who have served a prison sentence. This aligns with the evidence that people who serve their sentence in the community are much less likely to reoffend as they maintain family and community links that can sustain employment. IPRT believes that this new data strengthens the argument to increase community-based sanctions as not only are community sanctions much cheaper to administer than imprisonment but now we have more Irish-based and up-to-date evidence that former probationers are also more likely to be paying back into the Exchequer through employment.
The top three sectors in which justice-linked people were employed – namely construction, administration, and industry – are among the top sectors where people with previous convictions traditionally secure employment. The Working to Change Strategy, introduced in 2021, has worked to open many more doors for people leaving the criminal justice system to mainstream employment options and entrepreneurship, so IPRT would welcome updated statistics on in this area in three years’ time to see the positive impact that it has had for this cohort."