Criminal justice in Ireland

‘The overarching intent of condemnable and penal policy should be to do Ireland a safer and fairer place’ ( Review Group, Strategic Review of Penal Policy, 2014:8 ) . Does Ireland’s usage of imprisonment achieve this intent?

The overarching intent of Irish penal and condemnable policy should be to do Ireland a safer and a just topographic point, but Ireland’s usage of imprisonment does non accomplish this intent, when compared to other country’s imprisonment systems, Ireland’s system repeatedly fails at cut downing offense rates in Ireland and doing Ireland a safer topographic point. There are alternate ways to do Ireland a fairer and safer topographic point. First I will look at why Ireland’s felon and penal policy is non achieved through Ireland’s usage of imprisonment and I will so demo alternate ways in which Ireland’s felon and penal policy can be used efficaciously to accomplish this intent.

Ireland’s penal and condemnable policy has deferentially endured a continued growing in the prison population in Ireland over the last 20 old ages, the day-to-day mean figure of captives has grown rapidly ( O’Sullivan and O’Donnell, 2003 ) . Almost every prison in Ireland is presently keeping more captives than they were intended to ease. Overcrowding in Irish prisons is taking to a “pressure cooker atmosphere” within these prisons ( Barry, 2012 ) . In October 2013, there was over 4,000 captives within the Irish prison system busying merely over 3,000 cells. Out of these captives 44 % of them were accommodated in individual cells, while 43 % were kiping in dual cells. About 13 % of the staying captives were sharing cells with at least 2 or more captives ( O’Carroll, 2013 ) . In July 2014, about a twelvemonth subsequently, the overcrowding in prisons hadn’t seen much of an betterment in the rates of overcrowding. There were still less than half of captives busying a individual cell, while 51 % of captives were sharing cells ( Irish Prison Service, 2014 ) .

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When it comes to women’s prisons, the prison population of the women’s prisons in Ireland are one 3rd over capacity. The Irish Penal Reform Trust stated that the overcrowding in women’s prisons is so terrible that many adult females captives had been forced to portion beds in the yesteryear and they are still often sharing cells, the Irish Penal Reform besides said that women’s prisons had been invariably over capacity since 2009 ( Horgan-Jones, 2014 ) . Overcrowding in prisons deters the ability of the prison governments to suitably cover with inter-prisoner tensenesss and force, in order for prison governments to cover with this, many captives are locked up on their ain. In November 2011, 178 captives were locked up on their ain for 23hours a twenty-four hours ( Barry, 2012 ) . With captives being locked off on their ain, with a deficiency of installations to assist reform them or learn them how to behalf in the outside universe, “if we maintain them locked up for some old ages and so allow them endorse out, non holding any existent duty for working or cooking” ( James, 2013 ) it is small admiration that so many captives re-offend. Treating people like animate beings while they are transporting out their sentence in prison is merely traveling to promote them to move like animate beings when they return to the community ( James, 2013 ) .

With the big sum of overcrowding in prisons, captives can besides be made to ‘slop out’ because of deficiency of lavatory installations ( Barry, 2012 ) . Throughout all the prisons in Ireland, as of October 2014, at least 8 per centum of captives are required to “slop out” with the usage of pails as a toilet as there is no in-cell sanitation provided. Almost 40 per centum of captives were forced to utilize the lavatory in the presence of other captives while merely 55 per centum of captives had entree to a lavatory which was private at all times or were in a individual cell with a flush lavatory ( Irish Prison Service, 2014 ) . The worst instance of spilling out can be seen in Cork prison, where 97 per centum of captives were required to spill out.

When we compare the Irish imprisonment system, with the imprisonment systems in topographic point in other states we can see that Ireland’s usage of imprisonment does non accomplish the intent of condemnable and penal policy through the usage of their imprisonment system in the manner that other states do.

When compared to other states, in this instance we will look at Norway, we can see that Ireland has a higher prison population than Norway has and Ireland has a much higher rate of re-offenders. In Norway, there are relatively few people who go to prison, and those who do travel to prison, normally merely travel one time ( The Journal, 2014 ) . So why is Ireland so different, and why does Ireland hold so many re-offenders?

In Norway, 3,842 people, of the country’s 5.15 million people were in prison as of August 2014 ( The Journal, 2014 ) , this was inclusive of pre-trial detainees and remand captives ( ICPS, 2014 ) whereas in Ireland, 3,892 of the country’s 4.61 million were behind bars as of August 2014 ( IPRT, 2014 ) , and this was non including 665 captives who were out on impermanent release at this clip ( ICPS, 2014 ) . This makes Norway’s captivity rate merely 75 per 100,000 people, when compared to 99 people for every 100,000 people in Ireland ( IPRT, 2014 ) . Recidivism rates in Norway show that merely 20 % of released captives re-offend in a two twelvemonth period, whereas the recidivism rates in Ireland show that 51 % of released captives re-offend in a three old ages period.


The overcrowding in Ireland’s prisons may be the cause of the high rates of recidivism. With the diligence of the job of overcrowding within the prison system in Ireland over the past 20 old ages irrespective of the important growing in the sum of prison infinites throughout that clip frame, the IPRT believes that the most successful manner to cut down on overcrowding within Irish prison’s is to cut down the figure of people being sent to prison ( IPRT, 2009 ) . Surveies have shown that there is an huge scope for better usage of the bing community-based countenances in Ireland. These countenances would be cheaper than imprisonment and in some instances, provably more effectual than imprisonment. Most well, unlike the imprisonment system, community based countenances would accomplish the intent of penal and condemnable policy to do Ireland a safer and fairer topographic point as community-based countenances would non transport with them the harm of imprisonment, they would besides let the wrongdoer to remain a portion of his or her community while functioning their sentence and this would besides supply the possible to guarantee that the wrongdoer contributes to society ( IPRT, 2009 ) .

One option to imprisonment is suspended sentences, in which all or portion of the sentence is suspended for a period of clip. Suspended sentences are conditional on the wrongdoer remaining under the supervising of the probation officer for a specified length of clip for which the sentence is suspended. Another replacement for imprisonment could be a contribution to the hapless box, for less serious offenses. Here the justice orders the wrongdoer to pay into the tribunal “poor box” similarly wrongdoers could be ordered to pay a mulct.

For those offenses which are somewhat more serious, but non high hazard offenses, probation orders may be given in topographic point of a prison sentence. Wrongdoers being placed on probation have the duty to be on good behavior, non to take part in any farther offense and stick to the conditions of their probation order. Conditionss may include engagement in preparation classs, attending at a intervention clinic or specific programme every bit good as holding abode in a specified location. If wrongdoers fail to follow with their probation order this can take to their instance being returned to tribunal and this can ensue in a tutelary sentence being decided.

Community Service Orders may besides be handed out in replacing of imprisonment. Community service consists of between 40 and 240 hours of unpaid work in the community. Any community service order which is made must be completed within one twelvemonth of being ordered. The probation service is responsible for measuring the suitableness, direction and some supervising of Community Service Orders. Community Service can dwell of little work groups which are straight supervised by the probation service or it can imply single arrangements where the accepting administration provides supervising. These work groups or arrangements can include anything from land clearance work to basic edifice care and landscape gardening to back uping local enterprises. The usage of Community Service orders in replacing of imprisonment is a more effectual manner of accomplishing the intent of condemnable and penal policy to do Ireland a safer and fairer topographic point. The usage of such orders help to reform wrongdoers while besides profiting the community and it besides allows the wrongdoer to keep household relationships and employment. The usage of probation orders and community service orders besides cost less than imprisonment, a community service order costs around ˆ1,500, a probation order costs a little more atˆ5,000, while a one twelvemonth prison sentence costs ˆ65,000 ( Irish Prison Service, 2013 ) . Criminals who are given community service options to prison commit no more offenses after their clip than those people who have been to prison, and in many instances the consequences are even better for those who were subjected to community options.


Prison is the ultimate countenance available in Ireland. Because of this, it should be applied meagerly and with preciseness ( O’Sullivan and O’Donnell, 2003 ) . Imprisonment can frequently damage the prisoner’s societal public presentation, and accordingly it can lend to his or her return to piquing after release. Surveies have shown that captivity can hold an impairing consequence on the mental wellness of captives and this can damage the prisoner’s ability to map in the existent universe once they have left prison. The integrating of released captives back into Irish society poses a important challenge to the communities that these captives are being released into every bit good as the captives themselves ( O’Donnell, 2008 ) . Imprisonment can do captives to go institutionalised and as a consequence of this released captives may so be unable to populate exterior of the prison environment which can ensue in recidivism. Imprisonment is a terrible personal penalty for the wrongdoer. It is of limited protective, hindrance or disciplinary value and it should be used merely as a last resort, the rule should be that sentences of imprisonment should merely be imposed if the offense is such that no other signifier of penalty is appropriate. ( Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Penal System, 1985 ) .

With the recidivism rates in Ireland so high, this demonstrates that Ireland’s usage of imprisonment does non accomplish the “overarching intent of condemnable and penal policy” being at that place in order to do Ireland a safer and fairer topographic point. There are alternate ways in which condemnable and penal policy can be used to accomplish these intents, non-custodial sentences are proven to work in the reformation of felons. For those wrongdoers who present the hazard of terrible injury, prison is the best option, nevertheless, if more non-custodial sentences were introduced in replacing of the current imprisonment system for low-risk wrongdoers, this would accomplish a lower recidivism rate in Ireland, and in return it would do the people of Ireland feel safer cognizing that there are processs in topographic point to assist to reform felons, in add-on to this, it would besides do Ireland a just topographic point as it will cut down the figure of re-offenders and let them to reform their ain life and the lives of their households.

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Barry, A. , ( 2012 ) .Call for extremist alteration in Irish prison policy.[ Online ] Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 12 December 2014 ] .

Donnell, I. O. , ( 2008 ) . Recidivism in the Republic of Ireland.Criminology and Criminal Justice,pp. 123-146.

Horgan-Jones, J. , ( 2014 ) .Women’s prison population one tierce over capacity.[ Online ] Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 13 Decmeber 2014 ] .

ICPS, ( 2014 ) .World Prison Brief.[ Online ] Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 14 December 2014 ] .

IPRT, ( 2009 ) .IPRT Position Paper 5 – Penal Policy with Imprisonment as a Last Resort.[ Online ] Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 12 December 2014 ] .

IPRT, ( 2014 ) .Facts and Figures.[ Online ] Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 14 December 2014 ] .

Irish Prison Service, ( 2013 ) .Irish Prison Service, Annual Report.[ Online ] Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 15 December 2014 ] ., ( 2014 ) .Census Prison Population October 2014 – Cell tenancy – In-Cell Sanitation.[ Online ] Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 15 December 2014 ] .

James, E. , ( 2013 ) .The Norse prison where inmates are treated like people.[ Online ] Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 14 December 2014 ] .

O’SULLIVAN, E. & A ; O’DONNELL, I. , ( 2003 ) . Imprisonment and the Crime Rate in Ireland.The Economic and Social Review,34 ( 1 ) , pp. 33-64.

O’Carroll, S. , ( 2013 ) .Number of captives sharing cells in Irish gaols is ‘worrying.[ Online ] Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 12 December 2014 ] .

The, ( 2014 ) .Why Norway’s prison system is so successful.[ Online ] Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // ? utm_source=shortlink [ Accessed 14 December 2014 ] .


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