IPRT advocates for an Irish penal policy that is focused on non-custodial responses to crime, and which has rehabilitation and social integration at its centre.
Ireland systematically overuses imprisonment as punishment. While the average prison population on any given day in Ireland is close to the European average, the rates of committal to prison on sentence – the ‘flow’ of prisoners through the system – means that Ireland is one of the most punitive criminal justice systems in Europe. Additionally, the majority of people are sent to prison for short-term sentences, often for less than 6 months. Irish prisons are chronically overcrowded, and many prisoners who are sent to prison could be more effectively dealt with using non-custodial means.
IPRT believes that the best way of limiting the use of imprisonment in Ireland is the development of an integrated system of alternatives to custody. Alternatives to custody could include the wider use of suspended sentences, community service orders, etc.
The Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) Act 2011 introduced a requirement that the courts consider imposing CSOs for offences that would ordinarily attract a sentence of 12 months’ imprisonment or less. However, the Annual Reports of the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service since the enactment of the Amendment indicate that the legislation has so far not had the desired impact on reducing the use of imprisonment for less serious offences.
IPRT will continue to promote an increase in the use of non-custodial effective responses to crime as a means of reducing the numbers in detention, without net-widening.
8th September 2022
MEDIA RELEASE: In response to the publication of the Irish Prison Service Annual report 2021, IPRT is calling on the Minister for Justice to make immediate efforts to adequately and appropriately resource the proposed actions in the recently published Review of Policy Options for Prison and Penal Reform.
19th July 2022
Restorative Justice: Strategies for Change (RJS4C) has published a new analysis exploring the use of restorative justice in Ireland in the 2020 calendar year.
6th July 2022
The third meeting of the All-Party Oireachtas Group on Penal Reform took place on Wednesday 6 July 2022 in the AV Room of Leinster House. The focus of the meeting was the imprisonment of women.
21st June 2022
CSO reoffending data show that almost 62.3% of people released from prison in 2016 re-offended within three years of their release. The data indicates that 44.6% of people released from prison in 2019 reoffended in the year following their release.
15th June 2022
The Department of Justice is currently inviting tenders for research on ‘An exploration of the use of short custodial sentences and community service orders as part of the review of the Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) Act 2011’. The closing date is 5pm on Wednesday 6th July.
9th May 2022
IPRT Senior Policy and Research Officer, Sarahjane McCreery, spoke with Senator Lynn Ruane on the 'Conversations on the Margins' podcast about the work of IPRT.
28th March 2022
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD has published Justice Plan 2022, outlining 159 actions to continue building a justice system that works for everyone.
7th March 2022
The purpose of this first ever Criminal Justice Sectoral Strategy is to develop a shared vision for a more joined-up criminal justice system.
7th February 2022
Progress in the Penal System 2021 (or 'PIPS 2021'), the fifth in a series of annual reports benchmarking progress in Ireland's penal system.
21st November 2021
A new report by Advance details the findings of their research on diverting women from the criminal justice system, and some key recommendations. It also explains the work of the Women's Diversion Service, whose goal is to allow women to address the circumstances that led them to commit offences.