Irish Penal Reform Trust


A strategic goal of IPRT is to promote reform of Irish sentencing practice in a number of key areas.

Our starting point is that imprisonment itself causes a number of serious social harms, therefore imprisonment should only be used sparingly at the point of sentencing and the numbers in prison should be reduced.

As a key strategic goal for IPRT, we aim to promote the embedding and extension of the principle that detention should only be used as a last resort, while remaining committed to retaining and supporting the principles of proportionality and judicial independence in sentencing.

IPRT believes that mandatory and presumptive sentencing regimes are not effective. By removing or restricting judicial discretion, it denies the courts of the opportunity to choose sentences which are fair, proportionate and that reflect all the relevant circumstances of specific cases.

We also advocate for publication of sentencing data and analysis of this data. In practice, we believe that greater transparency in sentencing can be achieved, as well as better coordination between sentencing authorities and other agencies on the penal system.

Children Held on Remand in Victoria: A Report on Sentencing Outcomes

2nd October 2020

This report by the Sentencing Advisory Council (Australia) considers the relationship between remand and sentencing, and identifies the proportion of remanded children who did not go on to receive a custodial sentence for their offending.

Law Reform Commission publishes Report on Suspended Sentences

31st August 2020

The Law Reform Commission has published a 'Report on Suspended Sentences'. The report examines the legislation and the principles that underpin the operation of suspended sentences in Ireland and makes a number of proposals as to how the suspended sentence might be used more effectively.

Dramatic increase in prison committals points to policy failures that must be addressed – IPRT

15th June 2020

MEDIA ADVISORY: The Irish Prison Service Annual Report 2019 shows a significant increase of people committed to prison in Ireland in 2019, including a 21% increase in the number of committals for sentences of less than 12 months and a worrying increase in committals for the non-payment of court-ordered fines.

'SPACE I' Annual Penal Statistics: Prison Populations 2019

7th April 2020

The Council of Europe (CoE) has published 'SPACE I' Annual Penal Statistics on Prison Populations 2019. The report contains a detailed breakdown of penological trends across Europe. See IPRT's summary of key findings from both European and Irish perspectives.

Scotland: Public perceptions of sentencing

19th September 2019

The Scottish Sentencing Council have published new research this month, exploring public attitudes and levels of knowledge of sentencing options in Scotland.

IPRT responds to annual report from Irish Prison Service

24th June 2019

While positive reforms have been made in penal policy in recent years, an over-reliance on prison sentences within the judicial system means our prisons are becoming increasingly overcrowded.

Law Reform Commission publishes Fifth Programme of Law Reform

5th June 2019

IPRT welcomes the inclusion of ‘Structured Sentencing’ as a project in the LRC’s Fifth Programme of Law Reform.

Scotland: Extension of the presumption against short custodial sentences

17th May 2019

The Scottish Government has today officially announced plans to extend the current presumption against short custodial sentences.

UK: A study of the impact of a presumption against custodial sentences of three months or less in Scotland

8th May 2019

Crest evaluates the impact of the introduction of a presumption against the use of custodial sentences of three months or less in Scotland in 2011.

US: ‘Can we downsize our prisons and jails without compromising public safety?’ Findings from California’s Prop 47

1st May 2019

After a referendum was passed in 2014 in California to recategorise some nonviolent offences as misdemeanours, rather than felonies, what have the effects been on the crime rate?

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



Contact us

  • Tel: 01 874 1400
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