The Labour Party launched its election manifesto, ‘Building an Equal Society’, on Tuesday 28th January 2020. The manifesto can be accessed here.
Below, IPRT analyses relevant proposals in the 'Justice and Equality’ section, which starts at p.32.
Analysis of individual policy proposals:
(i) Prison Reform
IPRT welcomes Labour’s proposal to address the disproportionate number of people in prison with mental illness, learning disabilities and brain injuries. In Ireland, a 2005 research study showed that for all mental illnesses combined, rates ranged from 16% of male committals to 27% of sentenced men, while the rate for female committals was 41% and 60% for sentenced women. Global research demonstrates that people with disabilities face significant barriers when imprisoned. For more information, see IPRT’s recent report Making Rights Real for People with Disabilities in Prison.
See also PIPS 2019, Standard 13 – Mental Healthcare.
We also support Labour’s statement that non-custodial sentences should be presumed for minor, non-violent offences, and the party’s commitment to rehabilitation and probation. We strongly welcome the explicit recognition of the harm that custodial sentences for women in particular causes for children and other dependents. For more detail on IPRT's position on community sanctions and alternatives to prison, see here.
See also PIPS 2019, Standard 2 – Imprisonment as a Last Resort.
(ii) Sexual Violence
IPRT supports Labour’s proposal to commission a new report on Sexual Assault and Violence in Ireland, building on the original report. Criminal justice policy should always be informed by independent empirical research. We also welcome the proposed commitment to increased funding for rape crisis centres. IPRT believes that victims’ rights can be met at the same time as meeting the rights of offenders. See IPRT’s submission on implementation of the EU Victims' Rights Directive.
For IPRT's 'Smart Justice, Safer Communities' Policy Proposals 2016-2021, click here.
Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.