25% of prisoners are aged 18-24 — and 68% reoffend

People aged 18-24 account for a quarter of all people committed to prison — and more than two thirds of them reoffend after release, according to a report.

Penal reformers said the current system is “failing too many young adults”, often making them “more, not less, likely” to reoffend.

Publishing its Turnaround Youth report at a conference today, the Irish Penal Reform Trust is calling on the Department of Justice to draw up a specific strategy for 18-24-year-olds.

The report said this age group accounted for 26% of those committed to prison in 2013 and 24% in 2014.

“In Ireland, young adults are disproportionately represented in the Irish Prison System,” the report said.

Central Statistics Office population figures show that 18% of the 15-64 age group is aged between 15 and 24, a bigger age group than 18-24.

Of the 13,408 individuals committed to prison in 2014:

  • 971 were aged 18-20 (875 male and 96 female).
  • 2,253 were aged 21-24 (1,834 male and 419 female).
  • There was 8.5% increase in women aged 21-24 committed to prison in 2014.

It said research on reoffending rates showed that prison was “an inappropriate and counterproductive means” of dealing with young adult offenders.

Irish Prison Service research shows 68% of 18- to 24-year-olds reoffended after release from prison — compared to 53% among those aged over 26.

The report criticised the approach of the State in treating everyone who reaches the age of 18 as “immediately answerable” to laws governing adult behaviour “regardless of their level of maturity or vulnerability”.

It urged the Government to implement current strategies to support transition into adulthood and copy the Garda Diversion Programme for 18- to 21-year-olds.

The report wanted greater resourcing of community and youth projects aimed at diverting young people from offending. It recommended more alternatives to custody, including restorative justice, and rehabilitation for those exiting prison.

It said many countries, including Britain, Germany, Austria, and Croatia, were moving towards distinct approaches to youth offending.

DISCOVER MORE CONTENT LIKE THIS


More in this Section

Couple brought two young children with them to carry out carjacking

Calls for review of Cork city’s tree policy after Ophelia knocks up to 600 trees

After ‘dragging their feet’, banks to offer customers compensation

High levels of manganese in Cork village's water baffling


Breaking Stories

Ibrahim Halawa arrives in Ireland today after four years in Egypt prison

Untreated sewage being pumped into our water at 44 locations

Taoiseach travels to Paris for first bi-lateral meeting with Macron

Michael D Higgins begins New Zealand visit today

Lifestyle

Delving into the Irish tradition of Jack O'Laterns

Making Cents: How to call the scammers’ bluff

Why Hollywood gave superhero Thor a makeover

A helicopter put a piano on the 150-foot roof of Blarney Castle and other stories from the Cork Jazz Festival archives

More From The Irish Examiner