Irish Penal Reform Trust

Penal Policy

IPRT advocates for a national penal policy that is just and humane, promotes effective non-custodial responses to crime and uses prison as a last resort.

Our vision is for Irish penal policy that focuses on non-custodial responses to crime and has rehabilitation and social reintegration at its core. We believe that the emphasis of our penal system needs to move towards diverting young offenders and at risk groups away from offending behaviour at the entry points to the penal system.

We work towards securing long-term commitment to a coherent, evidence-informed, and effective penal policy, underpinned by international best practice. Effectiveness in this context is taken to mean the approaches to offending behaviour which reduce the risk of re-offending and which are seen to have the greatest social and economic benefits while minimising potential social and economic harm.

Key issues for IPRT in relation to the development of Irish penal policy over recent years have included highlighting the rapid expansion of our prison population from 2007 to 2011 (and again in 2018 and 2019) and promoting alternatives to custody through research, advocacy and policy work. 

We also engage in public and political debate around crime and punishment to build more informed debate and counteract the demonization of offenders. Some of our media appearances are detailed here.  

UK: Covid-19 and the Criminal Law: House of Commons Justice Committee

24th September 2021

A new report from the House of Commons Justice Committee analyses the impact Covid-19 had on the criminal justice system in England and Wales, and in particular details the lessons that can be learned from how Covid offences were created and enforced during the pandemic.

Interagency Group for a Fairer and Safer Ireland Annual Report 2019

20th April 2021

The Interagency Group focuses on analysing the nature of the problems faced by people when released from custody and how better interagency cooperation could assist in their reintegration into the community. The Group's third Annual Report outlines areas of progress and areas of concern.

Establishment of High Level Taskforce must be met with staffing, resources and wide consultation – Irish Penal Reform Trust and Mental Health Reform

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.

Guest blog: Developing smart principles for sentencing guidelines in Ireland

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.

Justice Plan 2021 and Department of Justice Strategy Statement 2021-2023

22nd February 2021

Justice Plan 2021 is the first of a series of annual plans which the Minister will introduce to drive reforms across the Justice Sector. Each year, the Plan will be updated with new actions and timelines for delivery. IPRT welcomes this transparency.

Progress in the Penal System: Assessing progress during a pandemic (2020)

26th January 2021

The fourth edition of Progress in the Penal System necessarily took a different approach than in previous years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 experience highlights positive and timely change is possible in Ireland’s prison system - IPRT

25th January 2021

PRESS RELEASE: Improvements made during pandemic threatened by risk of return to ‘old normal’ according to PIPS 2020 report.

Probation recidivism statistics

17th November 2020

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has published statistics on three-year reoffending (recidivism) for those sentenced to probation in 2014, in conjunction with one-year reoffending rates for the years 2008-2016.

Law Reform Commission publishes Report on Suspended Sentences

31st August 2020

The Law Reform Commission has published a 'Report on Suspended Sentences'. The report examines the legislation and the principles that underpin the operation of suspended sentences in Ireland and makes a number of proposals as to how the suspended sentence might be used more effectively.

High rates of reoffending following imprisonment for less serious crime demands alternative response – IPRT

5th August 2020

MEDIA ADVISORY: New figures published by the Central Statistics Office find that 55.2% of people released from prison in 2014 reoffended within 3 years. Nearly 80% of those aged under 21 when they were committed to prison reoffended within three years of being released, and 75% of people imprisoned for public order offences reoffended within three years. Reoffending rates remain too high and this demands alternative.responses

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



Contact us

  • Tel: 01 874 1400
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