Irish Penal Reform Trust

Women in Detention

On average, women make up around 4.3% of the prison population, with a large number of committals concerning non-violent offences. Additionally, the majority are detained on short-term sentences. However, the impact of even short-term imprisonment on these women and their families is profound. The economic and social costs to society at large arising from the imprisonment of women are also significant.

In 2019, there were 1,174 female committals, compared to 155 female committals in 1999. The rate of female prison committals has risen more rapidly than for males since 2011. In addition, there continues to be significant numbers of women imprisoned for failing to pay court-ordered fines, despite the Fines (Payment and Recovery Act) 2014 which came into operation in January 2016. In 2019, 16.7% of female committals to prison were for non-payment of court-ordered fines – almost twice that of the comparable figure of men.

Major concerns remain in relation to overcrowding in both of the country’s female prisons – the Dóchas Centre and a female wing in Limerick Prison. The detention of women for immigration-related reasons is also a concern for IPRT. IPRT remains committed to working towards major policy change in relation to imprisonment of women in Ireland, with a central focus on the provision of alternatives to detention and open prison provision for women. 

Irish Independent: Inside a Women's Prison

14th May 2017

Article on imprisonment of women in Ireland by Cathal McMahon.

Department of Justice and Equality publishes National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020

3rd May 2017

IPRT welcomes the publication of the government's National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020 on 3rd May 2017.

England: Women in Prison Report 'Corston +10'

4th April 2017

Women in Prison have produced a new report, ‘Corston +10’ on the tenth anniversary of the publication of the original ‘Corston Report'.

UK: 'PPO’s learning lessons bulletin: self-inflicted deaths among female prisoners’

28th March 2017

UK Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen has highlighted a “lack of concerted and sustained action” following a rise in the number of suicides among female prisoners.

UK, Prison Reform Trust: ‘Fair Cop? Improving outcomes for women at the point of arrest’

17th March 2017

Discussion paper by Dr. Thomas Guiney and Jenny Earle that provides solutions, and examples of positive initiatives being delivered by police forces to tackle low level, non-violent crime committed by women, in the UK.

Ireland’s unequal treatment of women in the criminal justice system raised with the U.N. by IPRT

14th February 2017

ADVISORY: IPRT has raised Ireland's unequal treatment of women within the criminal justice system with U.N. CEDAW.

IPRT Submission in Advance of the Examination of Ireland’s combined sixth and seventh periodic reports under CEDAW

13th February 2017

IPRT made a submission in advance of the examination of Ireland’s combined sixth and seventh periodic reports under CEDAW in January 2017.

Norway: ‘Women in Prison: A Thematic Report about the conditions for female prisoners in Norway’

20th January 2017

'Women in Prison' is the first thematic report published by the Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman under its UN mandate as the national preventive mechanism against torture and ill-treatment.

UK: Report on the relationship between female offending and homelessness

28th September 2016

A report published by the Prison Reform Trust and Women in Prison states that upon release six out of ten women do not have homes to go to.

England and Wales: Restorative Justice for Women in the Criminal Justice System

8th April 2016

A new research report by the Restorative Justice Council makes a series of recommendations for both practitioners and policy-makers on how to improve access to, and the experience of, restorative justice for females who have offended.

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



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