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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
22nd September 2021
This article conducts a meta-analysis of various studies that seek to find a correlation between custodial sanctions (imprisonment) and reoffending rates. The authors found that no matter what variables were considered, there was always either a null or criminogenic effect of imprisonment on reoffending, and therefore “the limited effects of custodial sanctions on reoffending should be viewed as a criminological fact.”
6th September 2021
This report profiles 18 groups in the USA that focus on healing and safety but do not rely on the police or incarceration. It provides nights into progressive practices for intervening in violence as it occurs, building viable models for accountability, and centring survivors’ needs.
29th July 2021
One of the main focuses of the Annual Report is on the response of the Probation Service to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
22nd May 2021
Following a report in the Irish Examiner about a person formerly addicted to heroin appearing before the courts charged with possession of €4 worth of cannabis, thejournal.ie spoke to advocacy groups working in the areas of drug addiction and penal reform, including IPRT.
2nd April 2021
IPRT and Mental Health Reform welcome the joint announcement by the Ministers for Justice and Health, and Ministers of State with responsibility for mental health and the national drugs strategy, of the establishment of a High Level Taskforce to consider the mental health and addiction challenges of persons interacting with the criminal justice system.
12th March 2021
A guest blog post from academic researchers Dr. Ian D. Marder (Maynooth University) and Dr. Eoin Guilfoyle (University of Bristol) on the principles that might underpin sentencing guidelines in Ireland.