2nd February 2012
Ireland’s system of punishment impacts disproportionately on socially excluded communities, and cuts to key preventative services in the community will exacerbate crime rates. Instead, Government must ring-fence resources for policy interventions that address social marginalisation, and thereby reduce crime. This is the core message of a new report by the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), The Vicious Circle of Social Exclusion and Crime: Ireland’s Disproportionate Punishment of the Poor,which was launched this afternoon (Thursday 2nd February, 2012) at a seminar co-hosted by the Community Platform and IPRT.
The report highlights the causative links between social exclusion, deprivation and crime. It details criminal justice policies, such as imprisonment for non-payment of fines and the criminalisation of begging, which directly target the poor; it also presents clear evidence that marginalised communities are more heavily policed and more severely punished than more affluent communities, compounding the social exclusion that underlies much crime. The report concludes with fifteen clear recommendations to Government on policy and legislative action to address these issues, and thereby create a fairer – and safer – society for everyone.
Speaking today, IPRT Executive Director Liam Herrick said:
“Austerity measures which see cuts to health, education and other key services impact disproportionately on marginalized communities. In effect, these communities are being penalized for mistakes made by other sections of society, and increasing levels of social exclusion will have a negative impact on crime. We are punishing disadvantage and making the situation worse, instead of addressing social marginalization in order to reduce crime, and create a safer society for everyone.
“We need adequately resourced prevention and early intervention strategies to prevent vulnerable young people coming into contact with the criminal justice system in the first place, and, at the other end, we need well-resourced reintegration services to support former offenders’ transition back into the community and prevent further offending. This is not rocket science, it is common sense.
“The fact that Ireland is the only EU state without spent convictions legislation is just one example of how we reinforce the marginalisation that results from imprisonment. That we continue to imprison thousands of people every year for not paying fines, while those involved in ‘white collar’ crime remain largely unpunished, further underscores Ireland’s disproportionate punishment of some sections of society.”
On the publication of this report, the Irish Penal Reform Trust is calling on the Government to arrest the vicious cycle of social exclusion and crime by:
The Vicious Circle of Social Exclusion and Crime: Ireland’s Disproportionate Punishment of the Poor was launched on Thursday 2nd February 2012. Key findings and details about speakers at the event are given below.
For all media enquiries, or to arrange an interview with speakers, please contact:
Fíona Ní Chinnéide, Communications Officer, IPRT on 087-181 2990
1. SEMINAR & LAUNCH:
A launch and seminar around themes arising from The Vicious Circle of Social Exclusion and Crime: Ireland’s Disproportionate Punishment of the Poor took place on Thursday 2nd February 2012 in the Carmelite Community Centre, 56 Aungier St., Dublin 2.
Speakers at the event were:
The Vicious Circle of Social Exclusion and Crime: Ireland’s Disproportionate Punishment of the Poor is available for download here. Among the key findings are:
The IPRT ‘Shifting Focus’ campaign seeks to demonstrate to policy-makers that a shift in resources from criminal justice to social justice - with emphasis on prevention and early intervention – makes social and economic sense. See: www.iprt.ie/shifting-focus
4. Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT)
IPRT is Ireland's leading non-governmental organisation campaigning for the rights of everyone in prison and the progressive reform of Irish penal policy, with prison as a last resort.
5. The Community Platform
Founded in 1996, the Community Platform acts as a collective critical voice for equality, rights and anti-poverty interests at a national level. The mission of the Community Platform is to contribute to the achievement of a better Irish society and economy through working innovatively to develop and promote a shared analysis, policies and action based on the values of social solidarity, justice and equality.