Tuesday, 10 December 2019
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
578. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she maintains dialogue with the Prison Service with a view to providing appropriate support for first-time offender juveniles on their release from prison; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51841/19]
The Deputy refers to the Irish Prison Service which is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice. There are no children detained in prison in Ireland.
The Irish Youth Justice Service in my Department, has responsibility for the governance and oversight of Oberstown Children Detention Campus. Oberstown provides places for children who are sentenced or remanded by the Courts. Oberstown runs the CEHOP Model of Care for children in detention. A core pillar of this model is Preparation for Release which aims to assist the child and their caregivers to experience positive outcomes and successful reintegration into the community on release.
In July 2019, I received Government approval for a proposal to strengthen sentencing options for children. Work is underway on drafting heads of a bill to ensure that community-based alternatives to detention can continue when a child turns 18, and that there is an increased focus, at the sentencing stage, on reintegration into the community post-release. The key principles of the Children Act 2001 include detention as a last resort and re-integration into the community post-release, which must be the focus when sentencing children. Continuing this approach where a child transitions to adulthood while serving a sentence, or under a community sanction, reflects the distinct needs of young offenders and is better for society.