Progress in the
Penal System (PIPS)

About (2020)

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) would like to express sincere thanks for the continued support of our donor-advised family fund and the Community Foundation for Ireland for providing financial support, which has made this publication, Progress in the Penal System (2020), possible. It is more important than ever that the rights of people in the penal system continue to be spotlighted.

A special thanks to members of the PIPS Advisory Group: Professor Aislinn O’Donnell, Professor Ian O’Donnell, Niall Walsh, and Dr. Cormac Behan. A big thank you to Dr. Seamus Taylor for his long-term vision of the PIPS project.

Many thanks to the Irish Prison Service, particularly Caroline Finn and Alan O’Callaghan, who worked with us to provide relevant information to the project. Thanks also to Dr. Conor O’Neill from the National Forensic Mental Health Service (NFMHS) for providing data to support the project.

The PIPS project is also not possible without the wide level of engagement from various stakeholders that inform and contribute to IPRT’s work.

The ambitious Progress in the Penal System ‘PIPS’ report and overall project would not come to its full fruition without the dedication and commitment of the whole IPRT team.

This report is dedicated to those in prison and their families during the Covid-19 pandemic. We hope that the impact of Covid-19 on prison systems will be taken as an opportunity to progress positive long-term penal policy change in Ireland.

Responsibility for the content of the report and any omissions lies with IPRT.

Michelle Martyn,
Senior Research & Policy Projects Manager, Irish Penal Reform Trust

Guiding Principles of Penal Reform

  1. Imprisonment is viewed as a sanction of last resort
  2. Recognition of the harms and costs associated with imprisonment
  3. Adherence to the ‘Deprivation of Liberty’ principle where the loss of freedom is viewed as the punishment
  4. Balance the security and protection of prisoners with provision of a safe and purposeful regime
  5. Protection and promotion of human rights, equality and social justice
  6. Focus on rehabilitation, desistance and reintegration.

Values of the Penal System

List of acronyms

BSS Bail Supervision Scheme
CMH Central Mental Hospital
CPT European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
CSO Community Service Order
CTT Contract Tracing Teams
ECHR European Convention on Human Rights
EPR European Prison Rules
HIQA Health Information and Quality Authority
HSE Health Service Executive
ICCPR International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
ICESCR International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
IHREC Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission
IOG Implementation Oversight Group
IPS Irish Prison Service
NPHET National Public Health and Emergency Team
NPM National Preventative Mechanism
OiP Office of the Inspector of Prisons
OPCAT Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture
PICLS Prison In-Reach and Court Liaison Service
PPE Personal Protective Equipment
PPRG Penal Policy Review Group
PRILA Prisons: the Rule of Law, Accountability and Rights
PQ Parliamentary question
QNPMHS Quality Network for Prison Mental Health Services
VC Visiting Committee
WHO World Health Organization
WTE Whole-Time Equivalent
Irish Penal Reform Trust

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