Who goes to Prison?

Prisoners in Ireland

Young Men in Prison

A young person describes his experience of prison since the age of 14

Ireland has one of the youngest prison populations in Europe. For young people, time spent in prison is predominantly in their cells, with little personal development or pre-release planning. In 2014, more than 70 per cent of people sentenced to prison were serving short, more than likely highly disruptive and unstructured sentences of 3 months or less.

Imprisoning young people in prison can have a very negative effect on the ‘life chances of the young person’ in terms of accessing employment, relationships with family, access to stable accommodation, mental health, motivation, and expectations about what life can offer.

Prison can have a devastating and long lasting impact upon a young person during the period of transition from adolescence to adulthood. Whilst many young people expect their early adult years to be spent in colleges or universities – learning and developing in a supportive and independent environment – we consign a large proportion of young people to an environment which strips them of their responsibilities, stunts their opportunities for integration into adult society.

(The Howard League for Penal Reform, Out for Good, ‘A sobering thought: Young men in prison’, 2004:2)