Irish Penal Reform Trust

Ebulletin #121

9th May 2024

Subscribe to IPRT news

IPRT Newsletter – First quarter of 2024 

Dear members and supporters,  

Welcome to another quarterly edition of the IPRT online newsletter!  

Since our last newsletter at Christmas, we have been busy running and attending several events including launching research into working with convictions, leading discussions on sentencing alternatives to prison, and taking a collaborative approach to justice across the island.  

We have also been raising the issues of overcrowding and prison expansion, progressing work in the area of children and families of people in prison, campaigning for further transparency and accountability, and have been getting our messages out in the media.  

We also include information on how to take press complaints, voting in prison and jobs from the sector and more below. 

Le mise le meas, 

Michelle Byrne 
IPRT Communications Officer 

RESEARCH LAUNCH: "The Secondary Punishment”: A Scoping Study on Employer Attitudes to Hiring People with Criminal Convictions 

On 8 February 2024, IPRT launched a new scoping study exploring the attitudes of employers in Ireland to hiring people with criminal convictions. The report presents the findings from interviews with employers and people with convictions, survey data, and a workshop event. Initial actions that have a key role in reducing the barriers to employment for people with convictions are outlined in 10 recommendations made in the study. 

1) PRISON LAW SEMINAR: Sentencing - Alternatives to Imprisonment 

On 28 February 2024, Dr Helen Kehoe, our Legal and Public Affairs Manager chaired a Prison Law Seminar on the topic of Sentencing: Alternatives to Imprisonment. At a time when overcrowding in prisons is continuously breaking record numbers, experts Professor Cyrus Tata (Strathclyde University Law School), Associate Professor Tom O’Malley (Senior Counsel, member of the Inner Bar of Ireland), and Fíona Ní Chinnéide Deputy Director (Prisoners and Reintegration) of the Probation examined the complex area of sentencing. 

IPRT also launched new resources on sentencing that set out what is meant by different types of ‘sentences’ in the criminal justice system including Community Service Orders, Conditional Discharge, Custodial Sentence, Deferred Sentence, Dismissal, Fines, Life Sentences, and Suspended Sentences. 

2) ALL ISLAND JUSTICE: Cross-border event in Newry 

On 15 March, Irish Penal Reform Trust and NIACRO held our most recent All-Island Fund event ‘The Criminal Justice System North and South – Current Challenges and Opportunities for Change'. Attendees included experts from across the island from both the statutory and voluntary sectors who examined common challenges in each jurisdiction with current systems and identified opportunities for improvement and meaningful reform.  

RESCALED – European Symposium on Detention Houses 


RESCALED, the European Movement for Detention Houses, hosted their European Symposium on Detention Houses in Brussels on 20 and 21 March. It comprised a busy pre-conference event on the first day and the formal Symposium on the second day. IPRT Policy and Research Coordinator and RESCALED Ambassador for Ireland, Pamela Drumgoole, attended the event alongside other Irish delegates including Caron McCaffrey, Director General of the Irish Prison Service and President of EuroPris. 

3) IPRT PRIORITIES 2024: Letter to Taoiseach Simon Harris 

IPRT wrote to the newly appointed Taoiseach, Simon Harris, congratulating him on his recent appointment and highlighting our key priorities for his premiership including our concerns about prison expansion, the need to ratify OPCAT and progress the Criminal Justice (Rehabilitative Periods) Bill 2018 to broaden the range of convictions that are considered spent. 


IPRT and Kids' Own Publishing have been working together since July 2023 on a book project which aims to provide an understanding of the unique experience of children and young people who have been impacted by family imprisonment. Bedford Row has supported 12 children and their families to work with Kids’ Own and their writer and artist to produce a book made by children, for children. 

4) VOTING IN PRISON – Local and European elections 

IPRT has written to Prison Governors asking them to put in place measures to support voter registration and facilitate voting in each prison. 

The Electoral (Amendment) Act 2006 provides the legal basis for the enfranchisement of individuals in prison who are eligible and registered to vote in custody. Voting can take place by postal vote. People in prison can ask the prison for a voter registration form. Applications for special and postal voting arrangements must be received by the local authority – where the person would have been living if not in detention – no later than 11 May 2024, and must also include the relevant, completed, certification. 

IPRT has made a number of suggestions of practical steps that can be taking to facilitate this. We have also encouraged Governors to facilitate political parties to distribute their party literature/manifestos in prisons through the school, library, and other common areas of the prison.  

5) IPRT IN THE MEDIA - highlights 

For the full list of our media features, visit our ‘IPRT in the News’ webpage. 


IPRT Board of Directors is delighted to welcome Amy McArdle to the board. 

IPRT’s Board of Directors is currently recruiting a new member with specific skills in HR. If you are interested in finding out more about this, read the Role Description for more details on how to apply. 



Whether a media publication has misrepresented you, disrespected your privacy, or printed something untruthful about you, you can follow the guidelines on our website to make a complaint.    

If you have a complaint about material published about you or your family by a member publication of the Press Council, you or a family member, or someone else to whom you give your permission, can contact the Press Ombudsman’s Office at 32 Westland Square, Pearse Street, Dublin D0 R9T2, telephone 01-6489130.     


10) ADD YOUR VOICE - become a Friend or Member   

IPRT relies on a network of committed supporters who share our vision for change. By becoming a Friend or Member of IPRT, you add your voice to our campaign for a more humane and equitable penal system.   

To find out more about supporting our work, please visit our Friends or Membership pages.   

IPRT relies on donations from charitable trusts, individual donations and membership subscriptions to cover operational costs. We have also received funding from donor-advised funds and project funds managed by the Community Foundation for Ireland and project funding from the Human Rights and Equality Grants Scheme of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. IPRT receives core funding from:   

Previous editions of IPRT newsletters are available to read on the IPRT website.


Subscribe to IPRT news

May 2024
April  June

Our work is supported by

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



Contact us

This website uses cookies to provide a good browsing experience

Some are necessary to help our website work properly and can't be switched off, and some are optional. Click on "Choose cookies" below for more information on the cookies being used on this website. Please note that based on your settings, not all functions of the website may be available. You can manage your preferences by visiting “Cookie preferences" at the bottom of any page.

This website uses cookies to provide a good browsing experience

Some are necessary to help our website work properly and can't be switched off, and some are optional. Please choose the cookies to allow below. Please note that based on your settings, not all functions of the website may be available. You can manage your preferences by visiting “Cookie preferences" at the bottom of any page.

Your cookie preferences have been saved.