Irish Penal Reform Trust

The Irish Examiner: Numbers being jailed at lowest since 2008

21st March 2017

An article in today's Irish Examiner by Cormac O'Keeffe discusses provisional figures showing that the number of people being jailed has reached its lowest level since 2008.

It cites provisional 2016 data from the Irish Prison Service showing a reduction of 12% in the number of committals and an 11% fall in the number of people being committed (some people are sent to jail more than once in a year).

Statistics show:

  • There were 15,131 committals in 2016, compared to 17,206 in 2015;
  • There were 12,604 people committed last year, compared to 14,182 in 2015;
  • Committal numbers were the lowest since 2008 (13,557);
  • There was a massive expansion in committals between 2008 and 2011, when it reached its peak (17,319).

Fíona Ní Chinnéide, Acting Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, is quoted in the article as saying:

“The fall in committals is most likely due to the commencement of the Fines Act 2014, with the IPS director general reporting a decrease of 15% in fines committals”.

However, she said there were still around 8,000 committals for fine-defaulting and called on the Government to consider a “potential amnesty”, given the “significant burden” on jails.

She expressed concern that numbers in prison were beginning to “drift upwards” in 2017 and said it was “particularly disappointing” that the new Cork Prison had been operating at or above its maximum capacity.

She called for renewed energy around community service schemes, which had “managed to safely reduce the numbers in Cork Prison in recent years”.

Read the article here.

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