Article Category: Penal Reform

A Year in Irish Prisons: Chaplains’ Annual Reports

The determined efforts and commitment of Prison Chaplains in the difficult working environment of prisons is clearly evident. While the support of the Irish Prison Service for chaplaincy is regularly acknowledged, the annual reports also highlight shortcomings within the prison system and the wider criminal justice system. 

Editorial

    by Ciara Murphy Dr Ciara Murphy is the Environmental Justice Advocate for the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice.   “A year ago, thinking about a society of care was utopian; today, in times of coronavirus, it has become utterly urgent and necessary.”[1] The coronavirus has been a great illuminator. Over the course… Read more »

How I[reland] Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Prison

The distinction of the Irish pastoral penal policy was, first, the prisoner was viewed not as a defective person with skewed attitude and amoral values. Instead, they were understood as someone who most likely had fallen on hard times, crime was seen as a result of poverty and a lack of opportunity, which was felt to be endemic in Ireland. There was empathy with the prisoner.

Penal Reform    

False Accounting: Why We Shouldn’t ask People Who Commit Crimes to Pay their Debts to Society

It does not work to replace ‘paying your debts’ with ‘repairing the harm’, then. Drawing on the work of penal theorist Antony Duff, we suggest the metaphor of “fulfilling a civic obligation” as an alternative tool to guide our responses to crime. Duff argues that, done very differently, “criminal punishment could and should be inclusionary, as something we can do, not to a ‘them’ who are implicitly excluded from the (law-abiding) community of citizens, but to ourselves as full, if imperfect, members of that community.”[15]

Confines, Wards and Dungeons: Some Reflections on Crime and Society in Times of Covid-19

Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice · Confines, Wards And Dungeons “Denmark’s a prison”, says Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play. “Then is the world one”, Rosencrantz responds. To which Hamlet replies: “A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards and dungeons.” The analogy between a given society – or even the world – and… Read more »

Penal Reform    

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Understanding Crime in Prison

Beth Duane INTRODUCTION Prison life in Ireland is not exempt from crime. While the common belief holds that a person receiving a custodial sentence will be stripped of opportunities to commit crime, research has shown that this is not always the case. Although little is known about the prevalence of crime in Irish prisons, violence… Read more »

Penal Reform    

crime_and_sin

Theological Reflection: Remembering the Gap Between Crime and Sin

Kevin Hargaden INTRODUCTION While in the popular imagination, crime and sin tend to be joined in the same universe, when we look to the Christian tradition, we find a much more nuanced account of how these two concepts relate. While few would object to discussions of criminality, there is a knee-jerk hesitancy to engage any… Read more »

A More Humane Approach to Addressing Harm

Tim Chapman INTRODUCTION The core value of the common good, which sustains community and justice, is being eroded in modern society.1 Globalisation has provided many material comforts, but resulted in an underlying sense of insecurity and risk.2 Many people have lost the experience of solidarity with others that community and religion offered in the past. They feel… Read more »

Penal Reform    

Psychology and the Penal System

Introduction In this article, I intend to look back and draw contrasts between the current situation of Irish prisons and what prevailed when I joined the prison service, as one of the group of four psychologists, newly employed in 1980. Although the prison system in 1980 was under considerable strain and was preoccupied with the… Read more »

Penal Reform    

Dublin. Dochas womens prison. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

Exploring the Policy Process: The Genesis of the Dóchas Centre

What might good prison policy look like in practice? In an article in The Guardian in May 2012, Halden Prison in Norway, which opened in 2010, was described as ‘the most humane prison in the world’.1 Yet the prison is, in fact, a high-security jail accommodating about 250 prisoners found guilty of the most serious offences, including murder, manslaughter, and sex offences.

Penal Reform