2nd August 2012
In this edition:
Dear members and friends,
While the summer is a quiet time politically and legally, it gives us a chance to review progress over the past year. IPRT held its 18th AGM on July 12th and at the meeting we presented our members with a full view of the achievements of IPRT over the year. We also highlighted the most acute problems which prisoners continue to experience within the system, as identified to us by prisoners during a number of events in Wheatfield, Mountjoy, Cork and Limerick prisons in May and June of this year. Overall the picture presented at the AGM was one of important progress at the policy level which in some areas has still not translated to real improvements in the lives of prisoners. Prisoner numbers had levelled off somewhat in the past year, but in recent months there have been some worrying signs of increase again. The issues of prisoner numbers and overcrowding remain central to any consideration of penal reform and sentencing remains the key to determining the prison population size. For this reason, we have invited Judge Colman Treacy, member of the Sentencing Council of England and Wales to present IPRT's Annual Lecture for 2012 at Kilmainham Gaol at 6pm on Thursday 20th September.
Keep up to date on IPRT news and activities between e-bulletins:
In recent years, IPRT has invited a leading national or international figure in penal reform to address our members and a wider audience of key stakeholders in the Irish penal system. Those who have presented our annual lecture have included Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr Alan Shatter TD; Dame Anne Owers, HM Inspector of Prisons; and Professor Nils Christie, world renowned criminologist.
This year it is our great honour to welcome The Honourable Mr. Justice Colman Treacy of the English High Court to present our Annual Lecture, addressing the work of the Sentencing Council of England and Wales, and also looking at the broad area of sentencing law. The event will be chaired by The Hon. Mr. Justice Paul McDermott, Judge of the Irish High Court. A reception, sponsored by the bar Council of Ireland, will follow the event.
Date: Thursday, 20th September, 2012 from 6-8pm
Location: Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin 8
More information about the event, including biographies, is available here: http://www.iprt.ie/contents/2372
Many thanks to the IPRT members who attended the 2012 AGM, which took place on Thursday, 12th July 2012 in the Camden Court Hotel, Dublin 2. It was great to see so many new and familiar faces! During the meeting, Mary (Rogan, Chairperson) and Liam (Herrick, Executive Director) presented an update on IPRT activities over the past 12 months along with recent penal reform developments; a new Board of Directors, who will oversee the work of the organisation for 2012-2013, was elected; and concerns communicated directly to IPRT by prisoners during our recent ‘Know Your Rights’ sessions in four prisons were presented and discussed. Following the meeting, IPRT Patron Senator Ivana Bacik hosted an informal Q&A session, where IPRT members had the opportunity to engage directly with her on various issues.
Would you like to become a member of IPRT?
Annual membership is just €10 for students, €40 for individuals, €80 for organizations/firms, and free to prisoners and their families. We can’t promise you lots of free stuff, but by becoming a member of IPRT you will be expressing your support for urgent penal reform in Ireland.
Why not consider becoming an IPRT member now?
IPRT has consistently identified a lack of understanding of prisoners’ rights as one of the core obstacles to the vindication of those rights in practice in Ireland, along with the lack of a robust independent complaints system for prisoners.
To address some of these issues, in 2010, in partnership with Dublin Institute of Technology, we initiated a Knowledge Exchange Project on Prisoners’ Rights, with funding from the IRCHSS. The project included the publication materials targeted at prisoners and their families, service providers, lawyers and policy-makers to explain the relevant human rights standard applicable in Irish prisons and to empower prisoners and their representatives to enforce those rights.
The centrepiece of the project was the production of a booklet Your Rights as a Prisoner, produced in association with the ICCL, as part of their wider Know Your Rights series of public information booklets. The booklet is written in accessible language (certified by the National Adult Literacy Agency) and the legal content has been approved by the Irish Prison Service. We have also produced an audio version on CD, and we have translated the booklet into Arabic, Polish and Lithuanian.
Other key aspects of the project included: an information booklet for the families of persons who died in prison custody; resource material for lawyers on prison litigation; and information for policy-makers on obstacles to prison litigation.
To further the reach of the project, we held a series of launch events with community organisations around the country, seminars for lawyers and politicians, and also held launch events in four prisons, organised in cooperation with the prison education staff. At these prison events, prisoners had the opportunity to raise human rights issues directly with IPRT; in turn, IPRT was able to raise these concerns directly with the prison authorities.
Find out more about Know Your Rights – Your rights as a Prisoner here.
Over the past few months, IPRT has greatly expanded the resources available on our website for (i) legal practitioners and (ii) academics and policy-makers working in the field of prisoners' rights or penal reform. These new materials are now available in the two relevant sections of our website. We have also added considerably to the section of our site which provides practical information to prisoners and their families.
Prison Law | www.iprt.ie/prison-law
Research Centre | www.iprt.ie/library