Progress in the
Penal System (PIPS)

1.7 Conclusion (2019)

PIPS 2019 highlights that accountability must be a fundamental feature of the penal system, penal policy, the courts, the prison system and more broadly, the media in its reporting of crime and punishment.

In 2003, professor of criminology Ian O’Donnell stated:

“Leniency is a hallmark of a confident system, a responsible media and a well-informed public. A civilised society gains nothing from the construction of unnecessary penal institutions. On the other hand, a weak government sometimes uses punishment to give the impression of decisive action.”[66]

In 2019, we have established broad cross-party and cross-agency recognition that prison building and putting more people in prison will not reduce crime or the number of victims, nor will it help build safer communities. Ireland has the policy foundations to build a world-class penal system, in which imprisonment is used only as a sanction of last resort, where the harmful effects of imprisonment are minimised when prison is the only appropriate response. IPRT believes that in 2019 there is the public and political will to make this a reality. PIPS offers a roadmap to get us there.


Irish Penal Reform Trust


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