Progress in the
Penal System (PIPS)

17: Sentence management

Standard 17:

Every prisoner and his/her family members, where desired, are facilitated and actively involved in his/her sentence planning from the beginning of sentence through to the point of release.


Sentence planning is intended to support the rehabilitation of the prisoner through addressing the causes of offending behaviour. [446] Sentence plans can comprise educational and training programmes, drug/alcohol programmes and/or a focus on issues such as personal relationships or family reconciliation. [447] The Council of Europe highlights the importance of having comprehensive, individual sentence plans and the need to include the active participation of individual prisoners in this process. [448] Sentence planning is of particular importance for those serving long or life sentences and should aim at “securing progressive movement through the prison system”, ideally from the first day of sentence. [449]

Current context:

The Irish Prison Service has acknowledged that further resourcing of integrated sentence management [450] is required if prisoners are to receive individualised sentence planning. [451] The Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service make a commitment in their Joint Strategic Plan 2018– 2020 to work together with the prison based multi- disciplinary teams as part of Integrated Sentence Management to identify needs and set goals for individual prisoners, within agreed parameters, to improve prisoner engagement and outcomes. [452]

Indicators for Standard:

Indicators for Standard 17

Indicator S17.1: The number of dedicated ISM officers across the estate and their caseloads: There are currently 23 ISM coordinators for 2,533 eligible prisoners (those serving sentences of 1 year+). In July 2018, the Irish Prison Service appointed an ISM co-ordinator dedicated to the sentence management of prisoners selected for J-ARC, Community Support and Community Return. [453]

Actions required:

Action 17.1: The Department of Justice and Equality must adequately resource the role of ISM officers in order to support effective sentence planning.
Action 17.2: The Irish Prison Service should publish data on caseloads, including the lengths of time prisoners are engaging with ISM and the number of prisoners with ISM plans, on a quarterly basis.


IPRT Irish Penal Reform Trust


Copyright 2019 Irish Penal Reform Trust. CHY number: 11091

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