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 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.  

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.

JCFJ Report: 'The Irish Prison System - Vision, Values, Reality'

14th March 2012

A new report from the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice provides an in-depth analysis of the prison system and outlines 15 recommendations for the future, calling for a radical change in prison policy.

US: Recommendations for reducing incarceration through evidence-based policies

15th August 2011

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has recently published a report making a series of evidence based recommendations on how states can reduce incarceration, reducing both costs and crime rates.

Scotland: Guide for People with Learning Disabilities and the Criminal Justice System

11th August 2011

The Scottish Government has recently published a Guide aimed at improving the relationship between people with learning disabilities and the criminal justice system.

Home Detention Curfew and Open Prisons in Scotland

11th July 2011

Two schemes have been operating in Scotland providing conditional liberty to prisoners to maximise the opportunity for a safe and effective transition into society at the end of their sentence and to relieve the pressure of high prison populations.

Drop in Wisconsin's Prison Population

13th January 2011

Wisconsin's prison population dropped significantly in 2010, reversing a trend of ballooning incarceration that had been predicted to continue for years.

A Label for Exclusion: Support for alcohol misusing offenders.

8th January 2011

A policy paper released today by the Centre of Mental health identifies areas and practical examples of how, in a changing and uncertain policy and commissioning landscape, the joint commissioning and delivery of alcohol interventions for offenders in the community might be productively developed.

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



Contact us

  • Tel: 01 874 1400
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