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.  

Temporary release procedures

8th December 2010

A report delivered by the current Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, to the Minister for Justice three months ago (only released today) identified “a litany of flawed systems” within the justice system which combined with individual lapses of judgment and ended in the death of Mr. Noel Keegan, who was assaulted on 31 December 2009.

Spending Cuts and Crime Implications: IPRT Submission Budget 2011

3rd December 2010

Ignoring the crime dimension to current financial decisions will have lasting negative effects for the Irish economy and society into the future. The IPRT Submission to Budget 2011 warns against false economies and the indirect costs of increasing marginalisation.

Re-offending Statistics in England and Wales

11th November 2010

The UK’s Ministry of Justice recently released a paper entitled Compendium of Re-offending Statistics and Analysis aiming to reliably compare proven reoffending rates between offenders receiving short custodial sentences and offenders commencing a court order under probation supervision.

RTÉ Marian Finucane: Prisons in Ireland

28th August 2010

An in-depth discussion on imprisonment in Ireland, including its effectiveness (or not) as punishment, issues surrounding the availability of rehabilitation services (and information about services), drugs in prison and drug treatment in prison, and more.

Irish Times: Prison not the only answer

10th August 2010

There is much more justice to be yielded from alternatives to prison.

IPRT Open Forum 2010: Exploding Prisoner Numbers

28th June 2010

The 2010 Open Forum event of the Irish Penal Reform Trust took place on Monday 28th June, 2010 at the Morrison Hotel, Ormond Quay, Dublin 1.

The Times: Britain's ballooning prison population is a disastrous mess

27th May 2010

Lord Woolf explains why it is folly to continue jailing so many people.

Mountjoy Under Spotlight at Justice Committee Meeting

21st May 2010

Former Mountjoy Visiting Committee member, Paul Mckay, appeared yesterday before the Justice Committee to express his concern at the conditions in the prison.

Guardian: Penal reform a key policy flashpoint for Lib-Con coalition

19th May 2010

Prison building versus reducing prisoner numbers - can the coalition negotiate a compromise on penal policy?

Irish Times: Minimise use of custody with fewer but better cells

14th May 2010

Professor Ian O'Donnell, writing in the Irish Times, presses home the need for a rethink of penal expansionism.

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



Contact us

  • Tel: 01 874 1400
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