Irish Penal Reform Trust

Ebulletin #80

23rd June 2015

IPRT ebulletin

1. Introduction

2. Turnaround Youth - Launch

3. Research: Imprisonment versus 

4. Community Sentences 

5. Not My Crime Still My Sentence 

6. IPRT in the News- Highlights 

7. Upcoming Events

8. Recent Developments 

9. Research Projects 

10. Join IPRT and support our work! 


Dear Members and Friends, 

It has been another busy few months for the IPRT! The launch ofTurnaround Youth: Young Adults (18-24) in the Criminal Justice System was a big success, The report launch also stimulated a lot of media discussion around prisons in Ireland, and key issues concerning penal reform such as the effectiveness of alternative sanctions. A number of reports were recently launched by the Department of Justice, setting out the status of the Irish Prison System in 2014, highlighting a number of positive developments, as well as a number of worrying changes. 

Our employment-based doctoral candidate Kate O'Hara continues to conduct recidivism analysis in the Central Statistics Office in Cork, and was recently one of five finalists in the 2015 Making an Impact Competition. Her initial findings are due to be published later this year in the Irish Probation Journal. IPRT is also excited to announce three new research projects, focusing on: the treatment of infectious disease in prison; Turnaround Youth 2; and the rights and needs of LGBTI prisoners

We said goodbye to intern David McGuinness at the end of May; we wish David well in completing his MA in Criminology at UCD. Meanwhile, Róisín O'Sullivan (author of this ebulletin) joined the team for the month of June, and Ellen Whelan continues work with IPRT until August. 

Information about upcoming events include: Talking About Prison Work, Hands Up For Children - Cross Party Discussion, and A Manifesto for All Children and Young People. Finally, we gave the IPRT website a small face-lift this month. We invite you to consider further supporting our work by visiting the website to make a small donation or become a member, which can cost as little as €10 annually for students, seniors or unwaged.

Turnaround Youth - Launch

Young adult offenders - the case for a distinct approach

TY Launch

IPRT had a really excellent turnout for the recent launch of the Turnaround Youth Project and Report which took place on Tuesday 12th May 2015 in the Irish Film Institute, Dublin 2. A number of key stakeholders attended the launch, including the Irish Prison Service, the Probation Service, An Garda Síochána, Irish Youth Justice Service, the Department of Justice and Equality and the Ombudsman for Children's Office. 

The report presents the case for the differential treatment of 18-24 year-olds who come in contact with the criminal justice system, and is grounded in emerging evidence, best practice, and informed by input from young people with experience of the issues. IPRT was also pleased to welcome representatives from a number of other agencies, including EPIC, Youth Work Ireland, Swan Youth Services, IASIO, Pavee Point, Le Chéile, PILA, JCFJ and many others.

Read More:

  • Download the report here.
  • IPRT press release available here.
  • Roundup of media coverage of the event available here.
  • Photos from the event available here.

Research update: Imprisonment versus Community Sentences

Kate O'Hara, IPRT's employment based post-doctoral candidate was one of five finalists in the 2015 Making an Impact Competition, a competition sponsored by the Irish Independent and the Higher Education Authority. The final was held at the Helix DCU on the 23rd of April. Kate, and the other finalists, were required to explain how their research makes a difference to Irish society.   

Kate's doctoral work has been examining the use of Community Service Orders as an alternative to short periods of imprisonment. Her initial findings have been submitted to the Irish Probation Journal for publication later in the year. Kate is currently in Cork and continues to conduct recidivism analysis in the Crime Section of the Central Statistics Office.

IPRT Research Projects

IPRT is delighted to announce three new research projects:

1. Strengthening Infectious Diseases Monitoring, funded by the European Commission to be led by Dr Patricia McNamara and her team in University of Limerick. The overall project objective is to reduce ill-treatment of persons in detention and improve prison conditions through improved and standardized monitoring and inspection mechanisms on infectious diseases (TB, HIV and HCV) meeting IPRT’s dual strategic aims of promoting human rights within prisons and strengthening monitoring systems.

2. Turnaround Youth 2, kindly funded by the Ireland Funds, to be led by Dr Michael Brennan and his team in Trinity College Dublin. Phase I of the project included a broad review of research evidence; development of an issues paper informed by the evidence and youth consultations; direct advocacy; and a campaign website. Phase II builds upon this work, with particular emphasis on responses to young adults with mental health issues in the criminal justice system.

3. Rights and Needs of LGBTI Prisoners, kindly funded by the Community Foundation of Ireland, and led by Dr Nicola Carr of Queen's University Belfast. The goal of this project is identify issues affecting LGBTI prisoners, to catalyze action and to raise awareness of their needs as a vulnerable minority group. The issues paper will provide clarity on best practice and the standards needed to ensure the protection of rights of LGBTI prisoners, with the aim of embedding policies for the protection of such rights.

Not My Crime Still My Sentence- 2015


The Children of Prisoners Europe June 2015 campaign "Not My Crime Still My Sentence" aims to raise awareness on the needs and wishes of children who have parents in prison, with particular attention on the rights of children as provided for under the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child - specifically the right to be heard, and the right to have their opinion taken into account.

The campaign includes videos in five different languages, which focus on children's views and reactions to their parents' imprisonment. For further information on "Not My Crime Still My Sentence" visit the campaign website here.

Recent Developments

a) Irish Prison Service Annual Report 2014

The Irish Prison Service published their annual report on 18May 2015. IPRT welcomed a number of positive developments, such as the end of “slopping out” in Mountjoy Prison and the overall reduction of prisoners in custody with a 5.8% decrease from 2013. However, there are also a number of concerning facts outlined in the Report, one example being the 8% increase in committals of 3 months or less. More details here.

b) Probation Service Annual Report 2014

The Annual Report of the Irish Probation Service 2014 was also published on 18 May 2015. The reduction of offenders being dealt with in the community from 15,984 in 2013 to 15,134 was disappointing. However, there were also positive reports, such as the number of supervision orders being granted increasing to 1,716 in 2014. More details here.

c) Joint Irish Prison Service & Probation Service Strategic Plan 2015-2017

The joint strategy of the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service for 2015 to 2017 aims to strategise the approach to offender management and rehabilitation in order to reduce re-offending and improve prisoner outcomes. IPRT welcomes many aspects of the Strategy including the action plan to promote social inclusion, with both agencies committing to respond to the needs of women prisoners and pursue a dedicated approach to working with women offenders in the community. More details here.

d) Prison Visiting Committee Annual Reports 2014

On 27 May 2015, the reports of Cork, Dóchas Centre, Midlands, Mountjoy, Shelton Abbey, St Patricks Institution, Castlerea, Limerick, Loughan House and Arbour Hill Prison Visiting Committees were published. While many of the reports appear to see some improvement in comparison to recent years, IPRT remains concerned that the Prison Visiting Committee system does not adopt a standard approach to reporting, and that the level of detail in the reports are inconsistent between Committees. More details here.

IPRT in the News- Highlights  

  • On 12 May, IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone went on RTÉ Morning Ireland to discuss how the prison population in Ireland is disproportionately young, with those between the ages of 18 and 24 making up 25% all committals in 2014.
  • Also on 12 May, the Irish Examiner ran a front-page story on IPRT's new report Turnaround Youth: Young Adults in the Criminal Justice System. The Irish Examiner also published an editorial endorsing the approach outlined in the IPRT report, stating that the proposals outlined make sense on both an "economic and human" level.
  • Deirdre spoke to RTÉ Drivetime to discuss the release of the 2014 Irish Prison Service Annual Report. Deirdre discussed a number of issues including the rising number of committals for non-payment of court ordered fines, which made up 70% of all committals in 2014.
  • Deirdre went on Kildare Today to discuss the benefits of not imprisoning young adults, and how effective intervention for this age group, such as intensive community orders, tackle the underlying causes of crime.
  • On 13 May, The Irish Times reported on IPRT's Turnaround Youth: Young Adults in the Criminal Justice System launch. The article examines the findings of the report, such as how amenable young people are to rehabilitation. This was followed up on 8 June, when The Irish Times published an opinion piece which questions the efficacy of imprisonment for young offenders.
  • On 3 June, the Irish Examiner published an article on restricted regimes, where young prisoners are sometimes held on lock-up for up to 23 hours a day. The article discusses IPRT's position on restricted regime, and the detrimental effect these long periods of isolation have on mental health if used long-term.
  • On 8 June Deirdre spoke to UTV Ireland on spent convictions and the excessive delay in the progress of the legislation.

Upcoming Events

23rd June 2015: Talking About Prison Work- Exploring recent developments in research on prison staff

The Irish Prison Service College and Dublin Institute of Technology School of Languages, Law and Social Sciences, with support by the Irish Research Council, will be hosting a half-day conference on 23 June 2015 on prison staff research. Admission for the event is free, but there are limited places. Full details here.

24th June 2015: Hands Up for Children - Cross Party Panel Discussion

A cross-party discussion on the importance of investing in Prevention and Early Intervention for children and young people will be held on 24 June 2015 in the Oak Room, Mansion House at 2pm. Full details here.

29th June 2015: A Manifesto For All Children and Young People

Start Strong, the Children's Rights Alliance and the National Youth Council of Ireland will jointly host an event to discuss the next Programme for Government, and how to ensure that children remain a priority for Government. Full details here.

~ We need YOU ~

IPRT needs your help to continue our work

At IPRT we truly appreciate the support of all our friends and members. Without your support our work simply would not be possible. If you value the contribution IPRT has made over recent years, and believe that our work towards a more fair, just penal policy in Ireland should continue, please show your support by becoming a member, renewing your membership 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.

Our work is supported by

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



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