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.
3rd May 2019
IPRT repsonse to reports of recategorisation of single cells to deal with overcrowding.
29th April 2019
The Irish Times reported on the drop in numbers being admitted to the Community Return Programme, with comment from IPRT’s Fíona Ní Chinnéide.
13th March 2019
ADVISORY: IPRT responds to the publication of the Visiting Committee Annual Reports 2017 for the Dóchas Centre and Limerick Prison, calling on the Government to deliver on previous policy commitments to improve responses to women in prison.
6th August 2018
The Irish Times has published an article and an editorial detailing the sharp increase in Ireland’s prison population in 2018, following years of decline and stability.
16th February 2018
IPRT welcomes the opportunity to provide its views on the role and priorities of the Probation Service as part of the development of its Strategic Plan 2018-2020.
11th October 2017
This discussion paper is based on the qualitative findings of employment-based PhD research completed by Dr Kate O'Hara.
27th June 2016
A report setting out the work and achievements of The Probation Service for 2015.
1st December 2015
Kate O’Hara our Irish Research Council Employment Based Postgraduate Scholar recently published some of her research findings on sentencing patterns in Irish courts in the Irish Probation Journal.
21st September 2015
The Prison Reform Trust (PRT) have recently published a report entitled “Relative Justice: the experiences and views of family members of people with particular needs in contact with criminal justice and liaison and diversion services”. Liaison and diversion is a process whereby individuals with particular vulnerabilities including: mental health problems; learning disabilities and substance misuse problems are identified and assessed as early as possible as they pass through the criminal justice system. The purpose of this report is to inform the development of liaison and diversion services prior to their national roll out in 2017.
27th February 2014
Both the Cabinet and the Seanad have given approval to create a pilot Community Court in Dublin. The Department of Justice & Equality is to look into the matter further.