8th October 2014
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Dear Members and Friends,
It has been a busy time for penal reform in Ireland, and also at IPRT, as we gear up for our Annual General Meeting on 22nd October 2014. A very exciting member-exclusive, 'Documenting the Inside', will follow the AGM, which you can read about here. We hope to see you there!
Among the most important recent developments in the area of penal reform was the publication on 17th September 2014 by Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms Frances Fitzgerald TD, of the final report of the Strategic Review of Penal Policy. IPRT believes the Review is extremely significant as it represents consensus across a range of expertise and backgrounds, including criminal justice agencies, victims groups, and civil society. Read more about this and other developments here.
Behind the scenes, IPRT Board and staff have been working hard towards completing the policy documentation required for full compliance with the Governance Code and the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising. Once completed, IPRT will be among the first 100 charities to have achieved this.
In July, we welcomed Marie Therese Power to IPRT in the new role of Development & Administrative Executive. Marie Therese's role is to help develop the sustainability of IPRT, through broadening our supporter base, engaging with existing members and exploring other avenues of support to ensure that IPRT can continue to grow our work. Marie Therese can be contacted at: email@example.com
At the end of June, we thanked interns Elizabeth Martin and Keith Adams for all their work over the previous 5 months, which culminated with an important research paper on prisons accountability; we intend to publish this paper within the next few months. Thanks also to Harriet Burgess, who worked with us in July and August, and Amy Deane who worked with us in September. We are delighted to have Iseult Ní Choitir working with us until January 2015.
Finally, a UK based researcher is seeking participants of individuals who are Irish, second generation Irish, or of Traveller origin who have been imprisoned in England and Wales. The research involves an interview and a questionnaire. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, we welcome your feedback and comments: email@example.com
The 2014 AGM of the Irish Penal Reform Trust will place on Wed, 22nd Oct 2014 at 5.30pm in the Camden Court Hotel, Camden Street, Dublin 2.
All IPRT members are invited to attend the AGM and to engage with IPRT board and staff as we plan for our next exciting phase. A member-only exclusive will follow the AGM.
Documenting the Inside
A conversation with film-makers Traolach Ó Buachalla and Martha Moloney
We are delighted to announce that following the AGM, IPRT will host a conversation with the creators of two recent prison documentaries, Women on the Inside (Sept 2014), filmed over a year in the Dóchas Centre, and the award-winning Life on the Inside (Feb 2013), filmed in Wheatfield Prison and Shelton Abbey Open Prison, Traolach Ó Buachalla and Martha Moloney.
Martha and Traolach will speak to IPRT members about the process and their experiences in creating these hard-hitting prison documentaries, which have played a crucial role in showing the realities of prison to Irish audiences.
This member-only exclusive event will run from 7-8pm, immediately after the AGM. It will be in the format of interview and discussion, and all members will have the opportunity to ask Traolach and Martha their questions about the process, experience, learning, and impact of the documentaries.
A wine reception will follow the event. Register here.
IPRT is a co-beneficiary partner on three European research projects, which are currently at different stages of completion:
IPRT has already produced a national research report on monitoring complaints mechanisms in Children Behind Bars (a project led by Defence of Children International) which we will disseminate by the end of 2014.
A major research project which is also underway is looking at the use of Pre-Trial Detention in Irish courts and across Europe (project led by Fair Trials International). If you are working as a criminal defence practitioner, we would like to invite you to take part in a survey as part of this project: http://bit.ly/1pHiEpi
Finally, the Prison Litigation Network project (led by University of Florence), which is at its initial stages, will look at procedural rights and access to justice for prisoners.
More updates will follow in the next edition of the IPRT ebulletin.
UN Human Rights Committee
Supported by the generosity of our members and donors, IPRT attended the 111th Session of the Human Rights Committee. On 14th July 2014, IPRT appeared before the UN Human Rights Committee to provide expert evidence on Ireland's human rights record regarding the treatment of prisoners and the use of imprisonment. It was crucial that IPRT attended in person, to ensure the issues were represented, and to witness how Ireland measures up to international human rights standards.
In the IPRT submission to the Committee, we raised a number of concerns about the penal system in Ireland, including:
The full recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee can be read here.
a. Census of Prison Population, Cell Occupancy and In Cell Sanitation, July 2014
In July 2014, the Irish Prison Service published a report on figures relating to the penal estate, cell occupancy and in-cell sanitation. As of July 2014, the prison population stood at 4,003. Of the 4,003 prisoners, more than half were required to share a cell with one or more individuals, and 330 prisoners were still required to slop out. Click here to read the Census report.
b. Census of Restricted Regime Prisoners, July 2014
The Irish Prison Service Statistics Unit recently published its quarterly Census of Restricted Prisoners in the Irish Penal system. The Census indicated a slight reduction in the number of prisoners on restricted regimes since the previous quarter. The key findings were:
The full Census is available here.
c. Inspector of Prisons' Omnibus Report on Deaths of Prisoners in Custody 2012 - 2014
The Omnibus Report of the Inspector of Prisons covers the death of 34 individuals, 15 of which occurred in prison, or upon admission to hospital from prison, and 19 occurred during temporary release. The Inspector calls for proper assessments to be undertaken before the release of a prisoner; and that vulnerable prisoners are linked to appropriate community services and have suitable accommodation on release. The Inspector also made a number of adverse findings. The Report can be accessed here.
d. Inspector of Prisons' Report on Mountjoy Prison Campus with emphasis on Separation Unit
This investigation identified the existence of deficiencies, bad practice, overcrowding and a lack of services in the Separation Unit of Mountjoy Prison. The Inspector was highly critical of the continued use of the Separation Unit and, in particular: the non-use of the exercise yard; the use of screened visits; the use of CCTV to monitor prisoners in their cell without their permission; as well as the general disrepair and dirt of the Unit.
The Inspector recommended the closure of the Separation Unit. Following the publication of the Report, the Minister for Justice announced the closure of the Unit in mid-September. The Report can be accessed here.
e. Strategic Review of Penal Policy, July 2014
The Minister for Justice recently published the Strategic Review of Penal Policy. The Review was the end product of two years of research by a Working Group tasked to examine all aspects of penal policy in Ireland. The Review was the first substantive review of the Irish penal system since the publication of the Whitaker Report in 1985, and was first announced by then Minister, Mr Alan Shatter TD during his address at the IPRT Annual Lecture 2011.
The aim of the Review was to secure a reduction in crime through a reduction in reoffending. The Review Group advocated punishment to be used only where necessary, and called for an increased focus on rehabilitation. The full Review can be accessed here.
Some highlights from August and Sept 2014:
For more details about of IPRT's media work, please contact us.
If you value the contribution IPRT has made over recent years, and believe our work should continue into the future, please consider showing your support by becoming a member or making a donation.
You can find out more about what we have achieved and how we have achieved it here.
There are many other ways that you can become involved in the movement for progressive penal reform in Ireland. Find out here.
Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.