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International Conference Dublin, September 2012

5 September 2012 - 7 September 2012

Trinity College Dublin, September 5-7 2012

On September 5-7 the fifth SCRIBANI conference was hosted in Dublin by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. The topic of imprisonment in Europe was discussed by key scholars from the field and opinions were exchanged with a motivated audience of over two hundred prison counselors, inspectors and directors, juridical consultants and human rights activists, representatives of probation offices, social welfare services, religious organizations and policy makers. The political debate in Ireland is in full expansion and JFCJ is one of the interlocutors since its publication in March of a report ‘The Irish Prison System. Vision, Values, Reality’ (see below for downloadable copy). Given the rapid rise of the prison population and deteriorating conditions of detention (a generalized phenomenon in the whole of Europe, except for the Scandinavian countries) the conference investigated the policies and practices to discern the challenges and re-imagine our system of detention.

This was taken on by the various speakers, all leading experts in their field of research and was then further developed in smaller workshops (4) and panel sessions (8) with an input by over 30 younger scholars and professional experts who submitted proposals through a call for papers.

Keynote speakers included economist Richard Wilkinson of the University of Nottingham (on social inequality), law scholar Lesley McAra of the University of Edinburgh (on juvenile delinquency), psychologist Shadd Maruna of Queen’s University Belfast (on probation and reintegration), criminologist Tapio Lappi-Seppala of the Finnish National Research Institute of Legal Policy and the University of Helsinki (on policy reform), criminologist Alison Liebling of the University of Cambridge (on the impact of privatization on the prisoner – warden relationship), lawyer Tom o’Malley of the National University of Ireland Galway (on principles of punishment) and Andrew Coyle, director of the International Centre for Prison Studies of the University of London (on detainees’ rights).

The themes developed in workshops and panel sessions related to the situation of children, women and older persons in prison, health and social needs, the role of education and art, spiritual support, interaction with prison personnel, the effects of incarceration, the need for restorative justice, the pro and cons of privatization of prisons and European legal enforcement mechanisms.

  • These are some of the major questions raised at the conference:
  • Are imprisonment rates higher in unequal societies?
  • Do punitive responses amplify juvenile offending?
  • Does detention undermine resilience against crime?
  • How important are management and leadership for the confidence of prison staff?
  • Is the prison system amenable to reform?
  • Does Christianity bear responsibility?



5 September 2012
7 September 2012
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