Joint Probation Service and Irish Prison Service Strategy for Development of Social Enterprise in the Irish Criminal Justice Sector 2017 – 2019 launched.
15 May 2017
The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, today welcomed the publication of the Probation Service and Irish Prison Service Annual Reports for 2016. In addition, the Tánaiste launched the Joint Probation Service and Irish Prison Service Strategy for Development of Social Enterprise in the Irish Criminal Justice Sector 2017 – 2019.
The Tánaiste said, “During 2016, the number of Community Service Orders issued by the Courts and facilitated by the Probation Service increased to over two thousand. I am pleased to note the increase in the use of Community Service, as an alternative to prison. The use of prison as a sanction of last resort is a core principle of penal reform, and I applaud the Probation Service in their success in providing appropriate alternatives to custody.
I also note the achievements made by the Probation Service in 2016, through the high level of compliance rates in the Community Return Scheme; and the positive results of the fourth recidivism study”.
Welcoming the 12% reduction in prison committals highlighted in the Irish Prison Service Annual Report the Tánaiste noted the impact that alternatives to custody were having especially on committals for shorter sentences saying “We must continue to ensure that violent offenders and other serious offenders serve appropriate prison sentences while at the same time switching away from prison sentences and towards less costly non-custodial options for non-violent and less serious offenders.”
The Tánaiste also noted the 15% reduction in committals for the non-payment of a court ordered fine in 2016 and said that even greater reductions of up to 50% were being experienced in the first quarter of 2017.
The Joint Probation Service and Irish Prison Service Strategy for Development of Social Enterprise in the Irish Criminal Justice Sector, was launched today alongside the publication of both annual reports.
Work undertaken in early 2016 by a Probation Service and Irish Prison Service Steering Group, identified the potential to create employment opportunities for ex-offenders through the creation of social enterprises; and considered the relevant structures required to harness such opportunities.
The fundamental theme of the joint Strategy is that people with education and training, who are in employment, are less likely to offend. The aim of the ‘social enterprise’ model is to prepare prisoners for the work environment while in prison and to facilitate them in gaining employment upon release.
Speaking at the launch of the Strategy the Tánaiste said, “I am delighted to launch today the joint strategy by the Probation Service and Irish Prison Service on the Development of Social Enterprise in the Irish Criminal Justice Sector. This innovative body of work will no doubt provide essential services and supports to ex-offenders as they begin the process of rebuilding their lives and reintegrating into our communities. I commend the on-going collaborative work between the Probation Service and Irish Prison Service in constantly striving to achieve better outcomes for both offenders and victims in the delivery of their services to the public.”