Irish Penal Reform Trust

Progress in the Penal System: A framework for penal reform (2018)

26th October 2018

On 26 October 2018, IPRT launched Progress in the Penal System 2018 (or 'PIPS 2018'), the second in a series of annual reports benchmarking progress in Ireland's penal system. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of progress within the last 12 months in meeting human rights in the Irish penal system.

The first report, PIPS 2017, was published in October 2017 and details 35 standards against which the prevailing situation is being independently tracked, monitored and assessed over a three-year period. Standards cover a wide range of penal policy areas, including use of community sanctions, prison conditions, regimes, oversight and accountability mechanisms, safety and protection, and reintegration. 

Of the 35 standards assessed:

  • 3 were classified as having progressed; 
  • 4 as having regressed; 
  • 13 had no change; 
  • 10 were classified as ‘mixed’, indicating that there has been progress towards the standard in some areas and regress away from it in others; 
  • And 5 standards lacked sufficient or adequate data in order to make a reliable assessment of progress towards the standard was unavailable.

Highlighted in the report are three key issues 'under the spotlight' for 2018: mental health; women (a new standard added to the report in 2018); and staff, training and relationships. IPRT believes reform and resourcing in these three areas must be prioritised over the coming year.

Michelle Martyn, IPRT Senior Research and Policy Project Manager, was centrally involved in the research and delivery of this publication, with the support of a Research Advisory Group.

The report is available to download here. An interactive version of the report is also available at


See more on PIPS: 

This 3-year flagship project is kindly supported by The Community Foundation for Ireland. 

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



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