The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) shall host a free event on Spent Convictions and Garda Vetting on Wednesday 12th June.
As part of its remit, the IPRT has been working in the area of spent convictions for some years now, producing various policy documents and calling for speedy implementation of legislation as a step towards enhancing reintegration post-prison.
Speakers at the forthcoming event will include:
- Senator Jillian van Turnout
- Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes
- Mary Cunningham, Director of the National Youth Council of Ireland
Venue: Pearse Street Library, Dublin 2
Date/Time: Wednesday 12th June, 3-5pm
To register for the event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or register online.
The UCD seminar series continues with a seminar on ‘Ethnicity and Culture in Probation Work with Offenders in Ireland’, hosted by Mr Denis Bracken of the University of Manitoba.
The seminar takes place in the boardroom of the UCD School of Law in Roebuck Castle on Monday 15th April 1pm. Tea/coffee and sandwiches will be provided.
The UCD Institute of Criminology, in conjunction with the School of Applied Social Sciences, continues it ongoing seminar series on Monday 8th April, tackling the topic of Irish prison policy.
Irish Prison Policy: Criticisms Revisited will be presented by Kieran O’Dwyer.
Tea/coffee and sandwiches will be served during the seminar, which takes place in the the boardroom of the School of Law, at Roebuck Castle, Monday at 1pm.
The future of Magilligan Prison has been settled with a new strategy, announced this month, by Justice Minister David Ford. The investment of £202 million into the prison estate in Northern Ireland is to include a redevelopment of the Magilligan Prison on its current site.
A recommendation from a previous review group which called on the prison to be closed and a new facility built in a more central location had been met with widespread local opposition. The redevelopment is expected to be complete by 2020.
In addition to the retention and redevelopment of Magilligan, the following projects were also announced:
- Phased redevelopment of Hydebank Wood as a secure college
- Provision of a separate, dedicated facility for women offenders which provides both custodial and community services
- Reconfiguration of Maghaberry Prison including a new accommodation block and high-security facility
- Development of a working-out unit on the site of the former Prisoner Assessment Unit
The strategy regarding the detention of women offenders is part of a broader approach which recognises the need to incarcerate fewer woman, and to divert as many as possible from the prison system. Minister Ford said he wanted a community-based approach to be the norm when it came to sentencing women offenders. Currently, sites on the existing Hydebank Wood plot are being considered. This announcement is in line with the recommendations of the Corston Report on the desirability of diverting women to community alternatives, and of establishing custodial units with adjoining community services.
Read the press release here.
The report of the sub-committee on penal reform was released this week following public hearings, invited submissions and fact-finding trips to Irish prisons as well abroad to observe the penal estate in Finland. The sub-committee, established in 2011 with the brief of analysing the report of the Thornton Hall Project Review Group, is chaired by David Stanton, TD, and looked at broader issues of back-door strategies of early release, as well as the ‘pernicious’ issue of over-crowding throughout the Irish system.
Five clear recommendations were put forward:
- Reduce prison numbers by one-third over a 10-year period
- Commute prison sentences of less than six months
- Increase standard remission from one-quarter to one-third and introduce a incentivised remission scheme of up to one-half
- Introduce legislation providing for structured release, temporary release, parole and community return
- Address prison conditions and over-crowding; and increase the use of open prisons
Overall, a comprehensive ‘decarceration’ strategy has been proposed, to be implemented and to effect a real improvement within a time-frame of 10 years.
Liam Herrick, of the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), welcomed the cross-party approach to penal reform, which provides hope for the future of a radically de-politicised criminal just policy. He also cautioned against the creeping expansionism currently evident, and argued that while new accommodation was preferable, it must be also be considered that unsuitable places of detention should be closed.
Read the IPRT response here.
In the media:
Dearbhail McDonald in the Irish Independent
Ruadhan Mac Cormaic in the Irish Times
Senator Ivana Bacik writes of her role in the report and outlines the key recommendations in the Irish Independent.
‘Throw Away the Key: Public and Judicial Approaches to Sentencing – Towards Reconciliation’
The 2013 Martin Tansey Memorial Lecture will take place on Wednesday 10th April, and will be delivered by the Hon. Mr. Justice Peter Charleton. The Martin Tansey Memorial Lecture is organised each year by the ACJRD, in memory of Tansey and the contribution he made to the criminal justice landscape in Ireland, including his time working with the Probation and Welfare Service and as a founding member of the organisation which preceded the ACJRD.
Mr Justice Peter Charleton was appointed to the High Court in 2006, and is the author of the seminal Irish text book on criminal law, a familiar tome to law students for many years now.
The lecture will take place in the Criminal Courts of Justice at Parkgate Street. To register your place, please contact the ACJRD at email@example.com.
ICRN has previously reported on the good work of Care After Prison (CAP). CAP, which has just achieve charity status, is a pilot project launched in October 2011 to help former prisoners deal with life on the outside, working closely with the client to tackle problems arising upon release, in order to prevent a return to prison. The project has capacity for 35 persons and currently operates in the Dublin postcodes 2 and 8.
Some recent developments to take note of include:
- CAP has been invited by the Governor of St. Patrick’s Institution to give a talk on social justice to the young men in the institution;
- CAP still has a 0% reconviction rate;
- The project has had 185 engagements since commencement;
- The new Prison Preparation is a new service aimed at helping families of prisoners and persons awaiting sentence, providing support and practical information;
- All CAP staff are cleared to visit prisoners in all prisons around the country to provide assistance;
- CAP has also started working with victims of crime to ensure they feel their role in the system is one of inclusion;
- CAP gives workshops to 5th and 6th year secondary school students, focusing on social justice issues;
- Life Story Work – CAP are seeking life histories from former or serving prisoners, to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, so that these narratives can be read and understood by young persons to provide a fuller perspective on imprisonment;
- A fundraising event will be held soon, on April 12th – more details to follow.