The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr Alan Shatter TD, today announced the establishment of a working group to conduct a strategic review of penal policy.

This is in line with the recommendations of the Thornton Hall Project Review Group which reported last year.

The Group had recommended that an all encompassing strategic review of penal policy should be carried out which will incorporate an examination and analysis of all aspects of penal policy including prevention, sentencing policies, alternatives to custody, accommodation and regimes, support for reintegration and rehabilitation and the issue of female prisoners.

Having regard to that recommendation, Minister Shatter said that "The Group now being established under the chairmanship of Mr Michael Whelan will carry out a strategic review of penal policy taking into account the relevant work already carried out in this jurisdiction and elsewhere, the rights of those convicted of crimes, the perspective of those who are victims of crime, and the interests of society in general".

The Group has been asked to make recommendations as to how a principled and sustainable penal system might be further enhanced taking into account resource implications, Constitutional imperatives and our international obligations. The Group has also being asked to include an examination and analysis of the role of penal policy in crime prevention, sentencing policies, alternatives to custody, custodial accommodation and regimes, reintegration and rehabilitation, and any special issues relating to female offenders and prisoners.

In making this announcement, Minister Shatter said "The Thornton Hall Project Review Group addressed the medium term needs of the prison system. I believe this review will help address the future needs of the prison system and will map a way forward for the ongoing reform of that system and the future development of penal policy in this State. I wish the Group well in their deliberations and I am looking forward to reviewing their recommendations in due course".

The membership of the Group is as follows:

Mr Michael Whelan (Chairman)

Mr Tom Cooney, Adviser to Minister for Justice and Equality

Mr Michael Donnellan, Director General, Irish Prison Service

Mr Vivian Geiran, Director, Probation Service

Mr Liam Herrick, Executive Director, Irish Penal Reform Trust

Ms Maeve Lewis, Executive Director, One in Four

Mr James Martin, Assistant Secretary, Department of Justice and Equality

Ms Sunniva McDonagh, Barrister at Law

Ms Oonagh McPhillips, Principal Officer, Department of Justice and Equality

Mr Jack Nolan, Assistant Commissioner, An Garda Síochána

Dr Helen O’Neill, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist

The Hon. Mr. Justice Garrett Sheehan

The Group is to report back by mid 2013.

Note for Editors

The terms of reference for the review are as follows:

The Report of the Thornton Hall Project Review Group published in July 2011 recommended that an all encompassing strategic review of penal policy should be carried out which will incorporate an examination and analysis of all aspects of penal policy including prevention, sentencing policies, alternatives to custody, accommodation and regimes, support for reintegration and rehabilitation and the issue of female prisoners.

Having regard to that recommendation, the Group shall carry out a strategic review of penal policy taking into account:

- relevant work already carried out in this jurisdiction and elsewhere,

- the rights of those convicted of crimes,

- the perspective of those who are victims of crime, and

- the interests of society in general; and

shall make recommendations as how a principled and sustainable penal system might be further enhanced taking into account resource implications, Constitutional imperatives and our international obligations.

In the context of that review, the Group shall include in particular an examination and analysis of:

(i) the role of penal policy in crime prevention;

(ii) sentencing policies;

(iii) alternatives to custody;

(iv) custodial accommodation and regimes;

(v) reintegration and rehabilitation;

(vi) any special issues relating to female offenders and prisoners.

 

18 September 2012

Ends