IPRT Forum to address exploding prisoner numbers, as numbers reach 4,317

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The Irish Penal Reform Trust, Ireland’s leading voice for penal reform, will today host an Open Public Forum, entitled Exploding Prisoner Numbers – Causes, Effects and Solutions. The event, which is chaired by the Inspector Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, will outline the causes of rocketing prison numbers in Ireland, and identify practical solutions to the prisons crisis.

Speakers at the event are: Tom O’Malley, Senior Lecturer in Law, NUI Galway and the Irish Sentencing Information System; Vivian Geiran, Deputy Director, The Probation Service; Assistant Commissioner Louis Harkin, An Garda Síochána; and Dr Mary Rogan, Chairperson of the Irish Penal Reform Trust.

As the numbers in prison reached 4,317 (Fri 25th June), with 941 out on temporary release, bringing the total in the prison system to 5,258, IPRT believes that a review of sentencing practice and policy has never been more urgent. Rather than persisting with gravely misguided proposals to build still more prison spaces, IPRT is calling on the Government to:

  • Commission an urgent review of sentencing practice and policy
  • Increase the use of community sanctions, with the necessary shift of resources from prisons to probation
  • Legislate for a presumption against sentences of 6 months or less

Over 1,720 spaces have been added to the prison system since 1997, when the rate of imprisonment was 68.1 per 100,000. Today, the rate of imprisonment is 94 per 100,000. The number in custody has increased by more than 10% in the last 12 months; this increase in the use of detention has occurred with little or no policy deliberation about the choices and options involved. We need, as a society, to look at the causes and effects of exploding prison numbers, and we need to identify real solutions now.

The IPRT Open Forum Exploding Prisoner Numbers – Causes, Effects and Solutions, takes place at 6pm on Monday 28th June, 2010 in the Morrison Hotel, Ormond Quay, Dublin 1.


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