Although we don’t want to claim more than we have achieved, we know that the combination of our research activities, communications activities, consistent emphasis on common sense and evidence-based strategies, and direct advocacy has helped bring about the dramatic shift in thinking around penal policy that has been witnessed in recent years.
At the same time, these positive developments remain fragile in the face of economic uncertainty. We are all too aware that positive developments can unravel quickly when society is faced with different challenges – unless, that is, a deeper, more fundamental shift in thinking takes place.
And this is why IPRT uses advocacy and not service provision to further our vision: with a small staff team - supported by an expert volunteer board and dedicated volunteers - we punch well above our weight by using advocacy strategies as leverage for systematic, and therefore longer-lasting, change.
Here we present short case-studies about what has happened - and also what has not happened - in terms of penal reform in Ireland, and the role IPRT has played in bringing about these changes.
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After many years of resolute campaigning on our part along with TDs and Senators, the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 was signed into law by President Michael D. Higgins on the 11th February 2016. However, there is still work to do.
Since 1994, IPRT has played a central role in maintaining pressure on Government to end the detention of children in the prison system in Ireland.
As of January 2019, plans for the development of a super-prison at Thornton Hall have been cancelled.
A case study describing how IPRT, a small organization with limited resources, successfully implemented an advocacy strategy that led the Irish government to take steps to improve conditions and reduce overcrowding in the country’s prisons.