Irish Penal Reform Trust

5 Key Recommendations for the next Programme for Government

22nd February 2016

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Here we detail IPRT’s FIVE priorities which we believe should be included in a new programme for government. IPRT proposals and recommendations are supported by a wide body of solid evidence and research, available here.

IPRT's priority calls on the next Government are:


1. A clear commitment to coherent and evidence-informed penal policy, grounded in crime data analysis, which is made public.

Progress and reforms achieved since 2011 means that there is now a strong foundation on which to work towards a model penal system in Ireland – one that is led by evidence and innovation, and not crisis-management.


2. A commitment to implement the recommendations of the cross-agency Strategic Review on Penal Policy

Although the Review represents only the minimum standards that should be achieved, implementation of its recommendations would be a strong move in the right direction.


3. A commitment to the development by the Department of Justice of a discrete strategy for young adults aged 18–24 in conflict with the law.  

Building on the successes of the Irish youth justice system, we need new approaches to offending by young adults aged 18-24, with particular emphasis on diversion, restorative justice, case management, and other strategies proven to be most effective with this age group.


4. Action on commitments to establish a fully independent parole board on a statutory basis

Decision-making around the release of prisoners must be removed from political control. More transparent and accountable structures of decision-making will bolster prisoners’ confidence in their engagement with prison services, treatments and regimes, and support rehabilitation.


5. A firm commitment to improving prison accountability - specifically:

  • the introduction an independent prisoner complaints mechanism;
  • ratification of the OPCAT;
  • and the creation of a robust National Preventative Mechanism.

Put simply, independent oversight is key to preventing potential human rights abuses behind prison walls, while public confidence in the prison system demands transparency and accountability.


These are IPRT's five key recommendations for inclusion in the next Programme for Government, 2016-2021.

For more information, including the evidence that informs our calls, see here.

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



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