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Ireland’s unequal treatment of women in the criminal justice system raised with the U.N.

Ireland is sending too many women to prison for non-violent offences, including failure to pay court-ordered fines, and the lack of provision of gender-specific alternatives to prison and the lack of open prison facilities for women may amount to discrimination under the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

These are among the key issues that the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has raised with the UN in advance of Ireland’s examination under the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which takes place tomorrow (Wednesday 15th February 2017).

The issues faced by women in the criminal justice system in Ireland are detailed in IPRT’s Submission in Advance of the Examination of Ireland’s combined sixth and seventh periodic reports under CEDAW and include:

  • A disproportionate number of female prison committals for non-violent offences when compared with males;
  • A lack of gender-specific alternatives to custody;
  • Ireland’s two female prisons (Dóchas Centre and Limerick female prison) are consistently the two most overcrowded prisons in the State;
  • There is no open prison for women in Ireland;
  • Outcomes for women on the Community Return Programme are poorer than for men, with 60% returning to prison compared with 10-15% of men.

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