Irish Penal Reform Trust

Penal Policy

IPRT advocates for a national penal policy that is just and humane, promotes effective non-custodial responses to crime and uses prison as a last resort.

Our vision is for Irish penal policy that focuses on non-custodial responses to crime and has rehabilitation and social reintegration at its core. We believe that the emphasis of our penal system needs to move towards diverting young offenders and at risk groups away from offending behaviour at the entry points to the penal system.

We work towards securing long-term commitment to a coherent, evidence-informed, and effective penal policy, underpinned by international best practice. Effectiveness in this context is taken to mean the approaches to offending behaviour which reduce the risk of re-offending and which are seen to have the greatest social and economic benefits while minimising potential social and economic harm.

Key issues for IPRT in relation to the development of Irish penal policy over recent years have included highlighting the rapid expansion of our prison population from 2007 to 2011 (and again in 2018 and 2019) and promoting alternatives to custody through research, advocacy and policy work. 

We also engage in public and political debate around crime and punishment to build more informed debate and counteract the demonization of offenders. Some of our media appearances are detailed here.  

The moral failures of America's prison-industrial complex

20th July 2015

An article in the Economist explains the moral issues of the mass-incarceration of Americans.

Strategic Review on Penal Policy - Final Report

18th September 2014

The Final Report of the Strategic Review on Penal Policy was published by Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD on 17 Sept 2014.

UK Report: ‘We should operate with a Presumption Against Imprisonment’

11th August 2014

Prison should not be the ‘default sentence’, leading UK criminal justice experts argued in a report recently published (July 3rd 2014).

Scotland: New monitoring group replaces prison visiting committees

1st May 2013

A new independent monitoring system is to be established in Scotland, replacing the current system of prison visiting committees.

Joint Oireachtas Committee Report on Penal Reform

27th March 2013

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality launched its Sub-Committee Report on Penal Reform on March 27th March 2013

IPRT gives cautious welcome to proposed Prisoner Complaints system

8th August 2012

IPRT today has given a cautious welcome to proposals for a new Prisoner Complaints system.

IPRT calls for Parole Board reform

7th August 2012

The Parole Board should operate independent of government and on a statutory basis.

Reducing prisoner 'gratuity' is negative, miserly and punitive

31st July 2012

IPRT Board member, Dr Kevin Warner, outlines why reducing prisoner 'gratuity' is a complex and far-reaching issue.

Drug-related deaths in Ireland third highest among 30 European countries

31st July 2012

Ireland's high rate of drug-related deaths is avoidable and challenges current policy approaches.

Reducing Imprisonment Rates - Lessons from Europe

20th June 2012

A new report investigates the most effective ways to reduce the secular rise in British imprisonment rates.

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



Contact us

  • Tel: 01 874 1400
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