The School of Law was delighted to host a lecture by the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly entitled “Prisoners, Media and Society: The Inspector’s Perspective” on October 6th, 2016. The event was chaired by Dr. Seán Donlon, Chair of the Press Council of Ireland and former Chancellor of the University of Limerick. In his lecture, the Inspector explored the complex nature of the relationship between the media, public, prisoners and their families and reminded us of the importance of protecting the vulnerable in our society. The event was attended by members of the public, the Irish Prison Service, the Office of the Inspector of Prisons, solicitors, barristers, staff and students.
Following the lecture Judge Reilly was presented with a report entitled “Deaths of Prisoners while in the Custody of the Irish Prison Service; Developing an Irish Database”. This report and the resulting database was compiled by ten fourth year law students under the supervision of Prof. Shane Kilcommings and Dr. Eimear Spain. The students involved were Roisin Cahill, Blathnaid Christian O Shea, Maire Ciepierski , Caoilinn Doran, Cillian Flavin, Niall Foley, Michelle Kavanagh, Luke Mulcahy, Rachel O'Carroll and Stephen Strauss Walsh.
The students completed an extensive literature review on the recording of deaths in custody in other jurisdictions and made recommendations on the creation of a database in Ireland based on international best practice. Ultimately, they created the basic database which will be populated by the Inspector. The creation of the database will allow the Inspector to test mortality rates, identify risk factors, enable comparison with international norms and allow the Inspector to point to remedial action, where appropriate. The report will be presented to the Tánaiste and Minster for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald and will be an important resource for the Inspector and the state in the years to come, informing debate and public policy.
This project is an excellent example of co-operation between the School of Law and an important stakeholder in the Criminal Justice sector. The School was delighted to offer students the opportunity to engage with the Inspector of Prisons while advancing the public good and developing key skills which bridge the gap between academia and the real world.