Irish Penal Reform Trust

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

22nd February 2021

Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has published the Department of Justice Strategy Statement 2021 – 2013, which sets out five high-level strategic goals for the Department. In addition, the Minister also published a Justice Plan for 2021.

The Justice Plan 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.

The section of the Plan relating most closely to IPRT’s work towards progressive penal policy reform is Goal 3, which aims to ‘Strengthen community safety, reduce reoffending, support victims and combat domestic, sexual and gender-based violence’. For more information on the full list of actions under this goal, see p.28 – p.36.

Justice Plan 2021 contains over 200 actions to be implemented. Key actions relating to IPRT’s work include:

  • Implement the actions in the Youth Justice Strategy (Ongoing)
  • Selection and appointment of members to the new statutory Parole Board (Q2)
  • Appoint the CEO to the new statutory Parole Board and begin assigning staff to the new organisation (Q2)
  • Commence Legislation [Parole Act 2019] (Q3)
  • Publish a Policy Review on Penal Policy which will set out the actions to be taken to reduce the rate of reoffending and establish a Penal Policy Consultative Council to advise on penal policy (Q3)
  • Commence a policy review to consider custodial sentences of less than 12 months in consultation with the IPS and Probation Service (Q2)
  • Commence a policy review of the Criminal Justice (Community Sanctions) Bill 2014 in consultation with the Probation Service and IPS in conjunction with a review of the operation of the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 (Publish Policy Review – Q1) (Publication of Bill – Q3)
  • Establish the Taskforce on mental health and addiction challenges of people interacting with the Criminal Justice System and complete Health Needs Assessment for prisoners (Establish the Taskforce – Q1) (Provide an update on progress – Q3) (Publish final high level implementation plan – Q4)
  • Implement the “Working to Change” Social Enterprise and Employment Strategy 2021-2023 to improve the employment options for people with convictions. (Ongoing)
  • Publish proposals to extend the range of the spent convictions legislation to widen the cohort who can benefit from greater employment opportunities (Q1)
  • Commission research on offender’s experience and interaction with state services in the areas of health, education, employment and housing to provide an insight into the quality of life and integration into the community (Q4)
  • Develop options for an appropriate mechanism and process to create awareness and availability of restorative justice at all stages of the criminal justice system with consistency of service ensuring quality in training and practice (Q3)
  • Approval of the General Scheme of a Bill to ratify and implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) (Drafting of Bill and publication – Q3) (Completion of legislative process – Q4)
  • Finalise the terms of reference for a review of the existing functions, powers, appointment procedures and reporting processes for Prison Visiting Committees (Ongoing)
  • Finalise the Criminal Justice Sectoral Strategy and agree an action plan, focusing on improving the quality of individual interactions with the system, reducing delays, increasing public awareness and understanding of the system and delivering a more empathetic, understanding and trauma-informed system (Q2)

Many of these actions for 2021 relate very closely to previously welcomed Programme for Government commitments. We welcome this roadmap for action and timelines for delivery on these commitments.

IPRT looks forward to engaging with the Department, its agencies, and other stakeholders on the key issues outlined in the Department of Justice’s ambitious Plan. We will closely monitor delivery of these actions over the course of 2021 and beyond.
 

The Department of Justice Statement of Strategy 2021-2023 is available to read here

Justice Plan 2021 is available to read in full on the Department of Justice website here.

February 2021
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