Irish Penal Reform Trust

Alternatives to Custody

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.

Prison recidivism 2016 and 2019 cohorts

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.

Department of Justice Request for Tender: An exploration of the use of short custodial sentences and community service orders

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.

IPRT features on 'Conversations on the Margins' podcast

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.

Minister for Justice publishes Justice Plan 2022

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.

Criminal Justice Sectoral Strategy 2022 – 2024

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.

Progress in the Penal System: The need for transparency (2021)

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.

UK: The Impact of Community Support on Diverting Women from the Criminal Justice 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.

Probation recidivism 2015 cohort

19th November 2021

New statistics published by the CSO indicate that there has been a very slight decrease in rates of reoffending from the previous year, standing at 29% in 2017, as opposed to 31% in 2016.

The Probation Service: ‘Informing & Supporting Change: Drug and Alcohol Misuse among People on Probation Supervision in Ireland’

11th November 2021

Building on previous research, the study identifies substance misuse prevalence among persons on probation supervision, examines the relationship between substance misuse behaviour and offending, and explores the engagement of persons supervised and the Probation Service response.

UK: “Maternal Imprisonment Polling Shows Clear Support for Better Services in the Community”

28th September 2021

Crest Advisory recently polled 2,500 members of the British public in order to assess attitudes regarding maternal imprisonment. 56% of those surveyed believed that the funding for 500 new prison places should be redirected to fund support services for women instead.

Our work is supported by

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

Subscribe

Legal

Contact us

This website uses cookies to provide a good browsing experience

Some are necessary to help our website work properly and can't be switched off, and some are optional. Click on "Choose cookies" below for more information on the cookies being used on this website. Please note that based on your settings, not all functions of the website may be available. You can manage your preferences by visiting “Cookie preferences" at the bottom of any page.

This website uses cookies to provide a good browsing experience

Some are necessary to help our website work properly and can't be switched off, and some are optional. Please choose the cookies to allow below. Please note that based on your settings, not all functions of the website may be available. You can manage your preferences by visiting “Cookie preferences" at the bottom of any page.

Your cookie preferences have been saved.