Articles tagged with: Penal Policy

Keeping The Scales of Justice Balanced

on Thursday, 18 September 2003. Posted in Issue 46 The Prisons and the Gardai: A Case for Independent Review, 2003

Peter McVerry SJ has worked with homeless young people for the last 30 years


Two critical elements of the Criminal Justice System have been in the news recently. The First Annual Report of the Inspector of Prisons(i) was published and the Minister for Justice announced the "most radical reform of the Gardai" since 1924, and promised new legislation giving the Gardai more powers.

Hopelessness and Suicide in Prison

on Thursday, 31 July 2003. Posted in Issue 34 Facing up to Mental Illness, 1999

Tony O'Riordan, SJ

April 1999


Why do people kill themselves? Because they have lost hope. People who have hope can envisage a future and can see what they are going to do tomorrow, next week and even in the years ahead. This ability to look forward to the future with a degree of confidence is what keeps us going in life.

Sadly it seems as if a growing number of Irish people are lacking in hope. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of suicides in Ireland in recent years, particularly among young males. 359 suicides were recorded in the first 9 months of last year. It is estimated that the figure for the entire year will exceed 500. This will be significantly more than the number of people killed in road accidents in 1998, which is estimated at 460.

The Claims Industry and the Public Interest

on Thursday, 31 July 2003. Posted in Issue 35 The Claims Industry and the Public Interest, 1999

Tony O'Riordan SJ and Bill Toner, SJ

June 1999


Processing personal injury claims is big business. In the Dublin Area Yellow Pages for 1998/9, 44 pages of advertising are devoted to solicitors (as against 33 pages to computing-related services, 24 to building services, and 9 to auctioneers, estate agents and valuers). In the \'solicitors\' section there are 23 full-page advertisements costing between £10,000 to £16,000 each The total cost of the advertisements in this section is about £500,000. The content of these advertisements is dominated by the item of personal injury claims. Bold headings proclaim "Personal Injury Law is Our Business", "No-Win No-Fee" etc.

Much of the analysis of the so-called \'compo culture\' has focused on four factors:

The North: Fair Play Needed for Ex-Prisoners

on Thursday, 31 July 2003. Posted in Issue 36 Cherishing our Old Folk, 1999

December 1999


Whatever people feel about early prisoner release in Northern Ireland, most people will agree that it is counter-productive to turn former paramilitary prisoners into an embittered and marginalised group through bureaucratic persecution. Yet there is every danger of this happening, as former paramilitaries are being treated in law the same as any other prisoners, though most people would agree that this is simply not appropriate. Indeed, it is questionable whether most of the sanctions listed below should be applied to any ex-prisoner, given that they are considered to have paid their debt to society.

Juvenile Justice, Child Care and the Children Act, 2001

on Thursday, 10 April 2003. Posted in Issue 45 Social Partnership: Is it a Just Structure?, 2003

Raymond Doole and Maria Corbett

The juvenile justice system in Ireland is governed by legislation (the Children Act, 1908) that pre-dates the creation of the present Irish State.  New legislation (the Children Act, 2001) has been enacted but the ongoing delay in bringing most of its provisions into force has resulted in the continued use of the outdated 1908 Act.  Full introduction of the 2001 legislation is not expected until the end of 2006.

Juvenile Crime Re-visited

Written by Peter McVerry SJ on Sunday, 22 June 2003. Posted in Issue 43 Juvenile Crime: Are Harsher Sentences the Solution?, 2002

Reflection and Analysis on Social and Economic Issues
Issue 43 June 2002

Peter McVerry SJ has worked with homelesss young people for the last 25 years. In this article, he looks again at the problem of juvenile crime.
The problem explodes

A Blight on Many Communities
The recent death of two gardai in a so-called "joyriding" incident focused political and media attention once again on the problem of juvenile crime - for about five days!

Government Report to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child

on Wednesday, 30 July 2003. Posted in Issue 31 Do Poor Children Deserve Perfect Teeth?, 1998

Fr Peter McVerry, SJ

March, 1998


Ireland\'s first national report on the state of children\'s rights and protections to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the child was presented by Liz O\'Donnell T.D., Minister of State for Development Assistance and Human Rights on the 12th and 13th January. Following her statement to the Committee, the Minister was grilled by the members of the Committee who had been well briefed by several NGOs who were also present, including the Children\'s Rights Alliance. The Children\'s Rights Alliance has been very critical of Government inaction on children\'s rights and needs and expressed to the Committee their criticisms. It is only a coincidence, of course, that the night before they met the Committee, they received a cheque from the government for £100,000 towards their valuable work!

Crime: Causes and Responses

on Wednesday, 30 July 2003. Posted in Issue 31 Do Poor Children Deserve Perfect Teeth?, 1998

Bill Toner, SJ and Tom Giblin, SJ

March, 1998


Why Did Gavin Do It?

Gavin, a twenty-one year old who normally lives in a flat complex in the inner city, is currently serving a one year sentence for burglary. On temporary release for Christmas, he is persuaded by a young neighbour to join him in a stolen car. The two drive out to the suburbs, where they spend some time in high-speed \'joy-riding\' and then ram-raid an off-licence and steal spirits and cigarettes. On the way home they are followed by a police car, which they ram. They are arrested and Gavin arrives back in prison, where he will face further charges.

Care In Chaos

on Wednesday, 30 July 2003. Posted in Issue 32 The 'Dependency Culture': A Good or a Bad Thing?, 1998

Fr Tony O'Riordan, SJ

July, 1998



Prisoners aged under 21 make up about 33% of the prison population as against the EU average of 10%. In fact on 15 January 1998 there were 730 offenders between the ages of 15 and 21 in custody. Even more disturbing is the fact that 43% of those committed to St. Patrick\'s Institution have already served at least one previous sentence. Given this high level of repeat offending it is questionable if the prison system is achieving its objectives of rehabilitation and re-socialisation, as well as those of security and safe custody.

Drugs: The Current State of Play

on Wednesday, 30 July 2003. Posted in Issue 33 Wanted: An Immigration Policy, 1998

Frank Brady, SJ

December 1998



In October 1996 and May 1997 the Ministerial Task Force on Measures to Reduce the Demand for Drugs published its first and second reports. The first report deals mainly with heroin and the problem of opiate misuse in the Greater Dublin area. The second deals with the non-opiate problem nation-wide, with drugs in prisons, and, briefly, with therapeutic communities and rehabilitation.

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We tend to think that law defines what crime is. This makes sense because contemporary legal codes are concerned with marking out the territory where conduct is permissible by specifying the conduct that is outlawed. Yet the earliest bodies of law – consider for example, the Torah or Hammurabi’s Code – are at least as committed to articulating the good as proscribing the bad... Read full editorial

Working Notes is a journal published by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. The journal focuses on social, economic and theological analysis of Irish society. It has been produced since 1987.