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Houses of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. (2013) Report on penal reform. Dublin: Houses of the Oireachtas.

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The Sub-Committee on Penal Reform was established specifically to examine ‘back-door strategies which involve some form of early release‘.

Executive summary - recommendations
1. Reduce prison numbers.
The Sub-Committee is concerned about the significant increase over recent years in the numbers of prisoners in Ireland. It strongly recommends the adoption of a ‘decarceration strategy‘; a declared intention by the Government to reduce the prison population by one-third over a ten-year period.

2. Commute prison sentences of less than six months.
The Sub-Committee recommends that all sentences for under 6 months imprisonment imposed in respect of non-violent offences should be commuted and replaced with community service orders.

3. Increase standard remission from one-quarter to one-third and introduce an incentivised remission scheme of up to one half.
The Sub-Committee recommends that standard remission should be increased from one-quarter to one-third of all sentences over one month in length. An enhanced remission scheme of up to one-half should be made available on an incentivised basis for certain categories of prisoner, particularly those serving a prison sentence for the first time.

4. Introduce legislation providing for structured release, temporary release, parole and community return.
The Sub-Committee endorses the Irish Penal Reform Trust recommendation for a single piece of legislation which would set out the basis for a structured release system; to include proposed changes to remission set out above, and to temporary release and parole. The Sub-Committee recommends that this legislation could also provide a statutory framework for an expanded community return programme. Legislation could also underpin the strategies currently used by groups working with offenders post-release, and with potential offenders.

5. Address prison conditions and overcrowding; and increase the use of open prisons.
The Sub-Committee was informed that structured release and incentivised remission programmes could not operate effectively within prisons unless prison conditions are improved and overcrowding tackled. The recommendations listed above would help to alleviate the overcrowding problem. In addition, actions should be taken to improve conditions within prisons generally. The proportion of open prisons should also be increased.


Date:March 2013
Pages:136 p.
Publisher:Houses of the Oireachtas
Corporate Creators:Houses of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality
Place of Publication:Dublin
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Electronic Only)
Subjects:MM-MO Crime and law > Justice system > Correctional system and facility > Prison
MM-MO Crime and law > Law enforcement and the justice system
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
T Demographic characteristics > Offender
MM-MO Crime and law > Criminal penalty
T Demographic characteristics > Prison Inmate (prisoner)
MM-MO Crime and law > Justice system > Correctional system and facility

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