Irish Penal Reform Trust

Progress in the Penal System: Assessing progress during a pandemic (2020)

26th January 2021

On 26 January 2021, IPRT launched Progress in the Penal System 2020 (or 'PIPS 2020'), the fourth in a series of annual reports benchmarking progress in Ireland's penal system. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of progress within the last 12 months in meeting human rights in the Irish penal system.

Since 2017, the PIPS project has set out a clear vision for the future of the penal system. PIPS 2020 takes a different approach to previous years due to the impact of COVID-19. PIPS 2020 seeks to capture the positive reforms that have been implemented in response to the pandemic, reflect on how these reforms were achieved, and outline the longer-term benefits to wider society so that these progressive reforms will be retained into the future. 

While we remain dedicated to achieving the 35 standards laid out in PIPS 2017-2019, it is not possible to measure progress in the same way as previous years. In PIPS 2020, we focus on 12 standards across focus on four thematic areas: penal policy; prison conditions and regimes; prison health and mental health; and accountability.

Of the 12 standards assessed in PIPS 2020

  • 2 were classified as having progressed;
  • 4 as having regressed;
  • 4 were classified as mixed, indicating that there has been progress towards the standard in some areas and regress away from it in others; 
  • and 2 had no change.

The report is available to download here. See pages 11 and 12 for an overview of the assessment of each standard. *An online version of the report is coming soon.*



The Progress in the Penal System project is kindly supported by a donor-advised family fund and the Community Foundation for Ireland. 

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



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