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CHILDREN AND DETENTION
A snapshot of the population on 13 May 2016 identifies that there was a total of 55 children detained within the juvenile justice system in Ireland. Of those 44 were detained within the Children Detention School system and a further eleven
As outlined at the beginning of this section, the population of children in the Children Detention School system and the Prison Service has fallen considerably since the implementation of the 2001 Act. However, a concerning and consistent feature has been the disproportionately high numbers of admissions of children on remand, relative to those serving sentences (Convery and Seymour 2016). This is especially notable in the context of research which identifies that many children detained on remand do not subsequently receive a custodial sentence or are necessarily remanded due to the seriousness of their offences or risk of re-offending (Freeman 2008; Seymour and Butler 2008). In these circumstances, it appears that practice is at odds with the legislative principle to use detention as a measure of last resort. A number of legislative provisions exist to protect children from excessive periods of detention. As outlined earlier in this chapter, the 2001 Act stipulates that children should be detained only as a measure of last resort and the period of detention imposed should not exceed the term imposed on an adult for the same offence. In a recent development, the Children (Amendment) Act 2015 introduced provision for children to receive 25 % (and up to 33 %) remission on their sentences for good behaviour in line with their adult contemporaries.
The detention system is in a period of transition and is likely to experience diverse challenges as legislative, organisational and practical arrangements for the National Children Detention Centre are finalised over 2016. It remains to be seen how the new arrangements for children’s detention in the Irish system will unfold in the coming years.
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