Irish Penal Reform Trust

Reintegration of Offenders

IPRT promotes rehabilitation and social integration as central concerns of Irish penal policy.

Incarceration often damages the prisoner’s social functioning, therefore contributing to his or her return to offending following release. Studies have shown that imprisonment has a damaging effect on the mental health of the prisoners, and can impair the ability to function in the outside world; prisoners can become institutionalised and therefore unable to live outside of the prison environment.

Imprisonment also carries with it profound negative social impacts on the prisoner’s family and on his or her community, and often the consequences of even a short period of imprisonment are permanent for both the prisoner and those close to him. Research has shown that those communities to which most ex-prisoners return are those characterised by high levels of deprivation and least able to cope with their re-entry. IPRT believes that imprisonment can exacerbate such difficulties within such communities.

In this context, IPRT believes that appropriate preparation for release and post-release support play an important role in the successful return of former prisoners to their families, communities and the wider society. Two elements should always be considered: preparation during the course of the sentence (‘sentence-planning’) and coordinated support post-release. Preparation for release while still in prison should consider not only equipping prisoners with essential skills (such as work skills), but should also include making connections with the prisoner’s family and/or community outside of the prison environment, for example through the use of periods of temporary release.

IPRT believes that post-release support is crucial in the successful re-integration, and should link the former prisoner not only with potential employment opportunities but also with appropriate services in the community, for example with mental health services or substance abuse support groups. It should also consider support for prisoners’ families.

US: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education

27th August 2013

A new research report by the RAND Corporation has found that engagement with educational and vocational programmes in prison reduces recidivism and increases the likelihood of employment post-release.

Report published on recidivism rates in Ireland

30th May 2013

Minister Shatter has published the joint Irish Prison Service and Central Statistics Office Recidivism Study 2013 – the first of its kind in the Republic of Ireland.

UK Arts Alliance launches online library of resources: The Evidence Library

23rd April 2013

Online library of research and evaluation of the arts in the criminal justice system launched in November 2012 by Arts Alliance in the UK.

UK: Community management of sexual offenders - What works?

1st October 2012

This short article examines effective strategies for managing sexual offenders in this community.

UK: Out for Good – Taking Responsibility for Resettlement

5th September 2012

The Prison Reform Trust, supported by the Pilgrim Trust, has conducted applied research drawing largely on the views and experience of prisoners to determine what makes for effective resettlement post-release. Their report was published today.

The role of sport in prisons: education, motivation and reintegration.

20th August 2012

A Prisoners Education Trust (UK) report indicates that sports in prisons offer opportunities beyond 'just the gym'.

Urgent need for pre-release scheme for life sentenced prisoners in Northern Ireland

9th July 2012

Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland calls for the development of a step-down facility and pre-release scheme for life sentenced prisoners.

UK: Integrated Offender Management - Effective alternatives to short sentences

4th July 2012

Integrated Offender Management (UK) initiative outlines effective strategies to address multiple barriers facing short-sentence prisoners.

‘Discovering Desistance’ Exchange Seminar

21st May 2012

Guest Blog: Michelle Martyn, Research & Policy Officer with IPRT, reports on a recent event in Belfast.

How and why people stop offending: discovering desistance

3rd May 2012

A recent study from Scotland explores how and why people stop committing crime; highlighting promising pathways for reintegration and creating safer societies.

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

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