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NCJ Number: 203101 Find in a Library
Title: Critical Analysis of the Irish Penal System
Journal: Journal of the Institute of Justice and International Studies  Issue:1  Dated:2002  Pages:1-10
Author(s): Paul O'Mahony
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 10
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: After tracing the history of the Irish penal system, this paper analyzes its effectiveness.
Abstract: The 150 years of the Irish prison system have seen a gradual softening of the original, very severe prison regime, which reflects changing value systems and rising standards of comfort and material well-being in society outside of prison. In Ireland, as in most Western modern industrial states, corporal and capital punishment have been abolished, and the stated policy is to use imprisonment as the punishment of last resort. Imprisonment is stated to be reserved for those who commit serious crimes and as a deterrent for incorrigible, persistent, petty offenders who are unable or unwilling to comply with court orders. Analysis of the current Irish prison system is limited by a lack of up-to-date official statistics and little in-depth research; however, it is possible to determine the conditions in which inmates are held, the characteristics of those imprisoned, the types of crimes they have committed, the type of sentences, and what has been achieved by their imprisonment. Data indicate that the majority of sentences imposed are short and for relatively petty crimes. The Irish courts clearly do not use imprisonment as the last resort. The short periods of imprisonment preclude effective training, therapeutic, educational, and rehabilitative programs. There are, however, some promising programs related to personal development that extend to the period after release. The overcrowding and poor material conditions in many Irish prisons and the manner in which the Irish courts use imprisonment are detrimental to the effectiveness of imprisonment in changing the attitudes and behaviors of inmates. 1 figure, 1 table, and 30 references
Main Term(s): Corrections policies
Index Term(s): Corrections in foreign countries; Foreign correctional systems; Foreign sentencing; History of corrections; Inmate characteristics; Ireland; Prison conditions
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