An anonymous donor at The Community Foundation for Ireland has awarded Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), in collaboration with EPIC (Empowering People in Care) a grant of €13,300 to carry out the Breaking the Care to Prison Pathway project that will look at alleviating some of the issues Ireland’s young people face upon leaving the care system.
It is widely recognised – nationally and internationally – that children in care of the State are more likely than other children to end up in conflict with the law, more likely to become criminalised, and more likely to end up in detention, and ultimately prison. State failure to look after this particularly vulnerable group of children is compounded by a response that resorts to criminalisation instead of improved therapeutic interventions, resulting in increasingly challenging behaviour with increasingly punitive responses. In effect, vulnerable children risk being punished for having a bad start in life.
The Breaking the Care to Prison Pathway project aims to examine the over-representation of children with experience of care in the criminal justice system and identify the best ways to reduce and address the increased criminalisation fo young people in care. While the connections between experience of care and prison have long been identified in the UK, to date in Ireland scant attention has been paid to the need to interrupt the profoundly negative cycle of the criminalisation of young people in care – a cycle that results in poorer outcomes for the individual young person, but also communities and wider society who suffer the impacts of crime.
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