Irish Penal Reform Trust

Reintegration of Offenders

IPRT promotes rehabilitation and social integration as central concerns of Irish penal policy.

Incarceration often damages the prisoner’s social functioning, therefore contributing to his or her return to offending following release. Studies have shown that imprisonment has a damaging effect on the mental health of the prisoners, and can impair the ability to function in the outside world; prisoners can become institutionalised and therefore unable to live outside of the prison environment.

Imprisonment also carries with it profound negative social impacts on the prisoner’s family and on his or her community, and often the consequences of even a short period of imprisonment are permanent for both the prisoner and those close to him. Research has shown that those communities to which most ex-prisoners return are those characterised by high levels of deprivation and least able to cope with their re-entry. IPRT believes that imprisonment can exacerbate such difficulties within such communities.

In this context, IPRT believes that appropriate preparation for release and post-release support play an important role in the successful return of former prisoners to their families, communities and the wider society. Two elements should always be considered: preparation during the course of the sentence (‘sentence-planning’) and coordinated support post-release. Preparation for release while still in prison should consider not only equipping prisoners with essential skills (such as work skills), but should also include making connections with the prisoner’s family and/or community outside of the prison environment, for example through the use of periods of temporary release.

IPRT believes that post-release support is crucial in the successful re-integration, and should link the former prisoner not only with potential employment opportunities but also with appropriate services in the community, for example with mental health services or substance abuse support groups. It should also consider support for prisoners’ families.

NI: Employer Perspectives on Hiring People with Convictions in Northern Ireland

6th October 2021

Ulster University and NIACRO undertook a quantitative study to explore employer practices and concerns, and to investigate what may increase the likelihood of them hiring people with convictions. Less than 1% of employers surveyed stated they would ‘definitely not’ consider hiring someone with a conviction history

National Development Plan 2021 – 2030: Prisons

4th October 2021

Upgrades in prison infrastructure in the NDP include plans to provide additional capacity at open centres and to end slopping out in E Bock in Portlaoise.

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.

Prison Reform Trust and Unlock: ‘Thinking Differently: Employer’s views on hiring people convicted of sexual offences’

14th September 2020

UK charities Unlock and The Prison Reform Trust have published ‘Thinking Differently: Employer’s views on hiring people convicted of sexual offences’, a report based on two surveys regarding the employment of those previously convicted of sexual offences.

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

Irish Penal Reform Trust welcomes increase in use of community service as a response to offending

17th June 2019

RELEASE: Although the rise in the number of offenders being dealt with through the Probation Service is welcome, IPRT is concerned at the fall in numbers participating in the Community Return Programme.

Parole and Temporary Release in Ireland: An overview

4th June 2019

Want to know more about how parole works? We have compiled a brief overview of the purpose of parole and temporary release, as well as some recent figures on the use of parole in Ireland.

UK: Increased temporary release of prisoners leads to reduced reoffending

31st May 2019

Results from a study published by the Ministry of Justice suggest that increased use of release on temporary license before release from prison is associated with reduced offending on release.

RESCALED: Movement for small scale detention

14th May 2019

RESCALED, launched in April 2019, advocates for a small-scale, differentiated approach to prisons, with community integration at its core.

IPRT Submission to the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission Consultation on Strategy Statement 2019-2021

8th October 2018

In this submission, IPRT outlines the need for the extension of the current grounds for protection against discrimination and the addition of a ‘social origin’ and/or ‘socio-economic status’ ground.

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



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