Category: Penal Policy

Into the Unknown

“I want to make a simple proposal that if our judges were more aware of the prison environment, to have walked the tiled floors or listened to the experiences of those they may have imprisoned first-hand, the numbers in pre-trial custody would reduce.” Peter McVerry SJ

A Shot in the Dark

It is important to ask why a request to vaccinate prisoners in the early stages of the programme is met with vehemence and opposition. The force of emotion expressed reflects something of our punitive instinct around justice and this particular instance exposes how in the end, that desire is self-destructive.

Deaths Under Sentence

Keith Adams considers, from a sociological and theological perspective, what it means for the terminally-ill to die in prison.

In the system but not of the system

Chaplains are unique, in that they have no agenda other than the welfare of prisoners and prison officers. There is no career path or advancement for chaplains that might compromise how they work. Thus, they are almost universally respected by prisoners who place a high level of trust in them. They will talk to the chaplain about issues in their life, traumas they may have experienced in childhood and their fears for the future. Most prison officers, too, hold the chaplain in high regard and appreciate the work they do.

Receiving a Wooden Bowl

Imagine if death was somehow suspended, causing people who are close to their demise or severely injured to exist, in a catatonic state? Portuguese author, Jose Saramago posits this scenario in his novel Death with Interruptions. He considers it as a thought experiment, teasing out its potential political, economic, and social ramifications, often with surprising… Read more »

Image of light coming through prison window

The Unintended Prison Experiment

  We have never been so obsessed with experiments. In some sense, our former way of life ostensibly hinges on their success. Reports of the merest success against Covid-19 imbue us with hope. On the periphery of the pandemic, slightly more removed, many unintended social experiments have occurred or are ongoing in Ireland. Typically, social… Read more »

No Country For Poor Women

A common lament of those working in the area of prison policy is a lack of information. This has not been one of those weeks. Since the beginning of the week, a number of documents with either a full or partial focus on prisons – the Irish Prison Service Annual Report 2019, a draft Programme… Read more »

Submission to Youth Justice Strategy 2020-26

  The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice has made a submission to the Youth Justice Strategy 2020-2026 as part of the public consultation phase for the development of the document. We hope to contribute to the development of a fair and effective youth justice system which responds appropriately to children and young people who… Read more »

Ireland has a racist criminal justice system

  It is less than two weeks since the Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, was caught on camera killing George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man. Floyd, who was a father of three, an accomplished sportsman, and a devout Christian had been suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 note. Protests in the city of Minneapolis… Read more »

Release prisoners on remand to halt Covid-19

  Reduction of the remand population is a crucial component of any overarching strategy to reduce prison numbers to a realistic level where the spread of Covid-19 can be delayed and mitigated, says Keith Adams.