Irish Penal Reform Trust

Parole legislation must be progressed with urgency to ensure clear, transparent and fair system for everyone

5th June 2019

IPRT MEDIA ADVISORY

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has today welcomed the restated commitment of Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charles Flanagan TD, to work with Opposition to progress legislation needed to reform the current parole system. IPRT has long called for the Parole Board to be established on a statutory basis, for the criteria for release decision-making to be set out in legislation, and for the removal of release decision-making from political control.

Commenting today, IPRT Executive Director, Fíona Ní Chinnéide said:

“The parole system in Ireland should be coherent, transparent and fair, and it must be removed from political control. This will benefit everyone. The distress that can be caused by unclear or inaccurate information should be further minimised through improved investment in victims support services.”

“Parole plays an important role in public safety through supporting the safe reintegration of people serving long sentences back into the community. It is incredibly important that the parole legislation strengthens timely engagement with rehabilitative services in prison and supports progress towards eventual safe release back to the community.”

“IPRT welcomes the Minister’s restated commitment to work with Opposition on the Parole Bill 2016. These reforms are now long overdue.”

In June 2016, IPRT welcomed the Parole Bill 2016 [PMB] introduced by Deputy Jim O’Callaghan TD. However, the legislation should be strengthened to ensure that the process is coherent, fair and transparent. In particular, IPRT believes that proposals to increase the minimum number of years before a life-sentenced prisoner can become eligible for parole review must be reconsidered.

For further comment, please contact Fíona on: 087 181 2990

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

For 25 years, the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has been promoting policies that make communities safer, based on the evidence of what works to prevent and reduce offending and reoffending. Central to our work is promoting an effective penal system that respects the human rights of everyone, and uses prison sparingly.

IPRT welcomed the introduction in June 2016 by Deputy Jim O’Callaghan TD of the Parole Bill 2016 [PMB], which aims to “[place] the concept of parole on a clearer statutory footing under the remit of an independent expert body.” While the Bill represents a positive move towards reform, IPRT is concerned in relation to a number of the provisions of the Bill and its likely impact on those subject to the process. See:www.iprt.ie/parole

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

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