• Homily Notes for Issue 83 of Working Notes

    Homily NotesOur most recent edition of Working Notes, Issue 83, deals with the theme of the Harm of Inaction. It features articles from experts around Europe that reflect on harm in the light of the Centre’s four focus areas: penal policy, environmental justice, economic ethics, and housing and homelessness. Kevin Hargaden provides homily notes to accompany this edition.

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  • Skehan's Claims Are Careless and Misleading

    conor skehan webThe former chair of the Housing Agency, Conor Skehan, appeared on RTÉ One’s Claire Byrne Live last night to discuss the ongoing housing crisis. A number of assertions he makes during the interview as well as his attack on services provided for people experiencing homelessness need to be challenged, says Kevin Hargaden.

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  • 2018 in Review: Prison News

    prison 2018 webEoin Carroll reviews the past year in prison news, in which the JCFJ discussed the needs of young adults in prison, prisoners sleeping on cell floors, and the reliability of prison statistics. To mark Prisoners' Sunday, we also analysed the increasing numbers on extended lock-up (19-23hrs), the Oireachtas Justice Committee’s report on penal reform, the role of the Inspector of Prisons in establishing and monitoring standards and the visit of Pope Francis.

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  • 2018 Pivotal Year for Climate Change

    environment 2018On many fronts, 2018 looks set to have been a pivotal year on climate change. Disruption and hardship here in Ireland caused by severe weather in the early part of the year and record warm temperatures during the summer months brought the impact of climate change into greater focus, says Catherine Devitt.

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About the Centre

The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice works to combat injustice and marginalisation in Irish society, through social analysis, education and advocacy.

The Centre highlights complex social issues, informs opinion and advocates for governmental policy change to create a fair and equitable society for all.

Analysis on our Key Issues

People in prison are amongst the most marginalised and vulnerable in our society. The majority have left school early, experience literacy and learning difficulties and have a history of unemployment... Click here to view all of our material on Penal Policy

Environmental protection has emerged as a key element of social justice debates in recent decades... Click here to view all of our material on Environmental Justice

The right to a safe and secure place to live is one of the most basic human rights, it is fundamental to enable people to live a dignified life... Click here to view all of our material on Housing Policy

In our political discourse, every question of human flourishing seems to be reduced to bottom-line thinking. This focus on riches impoverishes our shared discourse and has serious negative consequences for society Click here to view material on Economic Justice

The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice focuses on a number of other issues... Explore all here

Our Journal


Exploring Social Justice

Why Care - Social Justice Awareness for Younger People

New Cork Prison doesn't meet necessary standards

patricks conditions 250Legislation to provide for a new prison in Cork is in the process of passing through both houses of the Oireachtas, the Dáil and Seanad Éireann. The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice has been referenced a number of times during these debates, and two of its team members Fr Peter McVerry and Eoin Carroll have been quoted. The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice welcomes the replacement of the old prison which has been condemned in numerous reports including those by the Council of Europe's watchdog The Committee for the Prevention against Torture. However, the Centre has serious concerns in the standards set for the proposed prison - in particular the abandonment of the principle of one-person, one-cell. To view the transcription of the debates click here for the Dáil and here for Seanad Éireann.

Nearly thirty years ago Dr T.K. Whitaker's committee drafted some basic principles and standards for Irish Prisons. These said that prisoners' daily routine and standard of living should broadly reflect that of the national average. The committee noted that prisoners should have ready access to toilet facilities and a cell to themselves. Cork prison will have 170 cells of which only 30 will be single cells. This means that up to 280 prisoners of a potential 310 will be sharing cells. Fr Peter McVerry who regularly visits Mountjoy Prison has said "a central feature of the current renovation programme in Mountjoy Prison is the provision of single occupancy cells. In the sections of Mountjoy where refurbishment has now been completed, there has been a huge improvement in the environment, with dramatic reductions in the levels of intimidation and violence. I believe this is in no small part due to implementation of a policy of single occupancy."

At a minimum, there is need for single cell accommodation for long-term prisoners. This principle is recognised by the European Prison Rules and a standard set by the Irish Inspector of Prisons. Although Cork prison currently holds 39 prisoners on long-term sentences, the new prison plans for only 30 single cells. Furthermore, the new prison will increase capacity by 25% which, based on current averages, could result in an increase in the number of long-term prisoners to just under 50. The principle of single-cell occupancy for long-term prisoners will be impossible to abide by within the new prison.

Posted in Criminality, Prisons and Justice News

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