• Second World Day of the Poor

    the poorWe live in a society that is very comfortable talking in terms of human rights and social justice, but we are troubled when the vocabulary shifts to a more combative linguistic register, says Kevin Hargaden.

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  • Ignatian Examen in Prison

    claire hargadenThe Ignatian Examen is a five-part spiritual exercise which Jesuits do twice daily. It also offers benefits to others, including prisoners. Claire Hargaden reflects on the practice.

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  • Prisoners' Sunday

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    Prisoners' Sunday is an opportunity to pause, reflect and pray for the men, women and children in prison and detention. The following short reflection by Eoin Carroll touches upon some key moments in the prison landscape over the past year.

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  • Irish Prisoners Overseas

    Irish Prisoners OverseasIrish citizens who are in prison overseas face lengthy delays to have their applications to be transferred home processed. This must change, says Ciara Kirrane of the ICPO.

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About the Centre

The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice works to combat injustice and marginalisation in Irish society, through social analysis, education and advocacy.

The Centre highlights complex social issues, informs opinion and advocates for governmental policy change to create a fair and equitable society for all.

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People in prison are amongst the most marginalised and vulnerable in our society. The majority have left school early, experience literacy and learning difficulties and have a history of unemployment... Click here to view all of our material on Penal Policy

Environmental protection has emerged as a key element of social justice debates in recent decades... Click here to view all of our material on Environmental Justice

The right to a safe and secure place to live is one of the most basic human rights, it is fundamental to enable people to live a dignified life... Click here to view all of our material on Housing Policy

In our political discourse, every question of human flourishing seems to be reduced to bottom-line thinking. This focus on riches impoverishes our shared discourse and has serious negative consequences for society Click here to view material on Economic Justice

The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice focuses on a number of other issues... Explore all here

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Exploring Social Justice

Why Care - Social Justice Awareness for Younger People

Could Fr Peter McVerry be the new Minister with responsibility for Drug policy?

young drug addict manCould Fr Peter McVerry be the new Minister with responsibility for Drug policy?

Highly unlikely, but his CV would suggest otherwise. Peter has worked with people dependent on drugs since the 1970's. In the early years he would have seen abuse of Cannabis and LSE, from the late 80’s intravenous drugs such as heroin and more recently poly (multiple) drug use.

The voluntary organisation that bears his name, and which he is a Director of, works daily with people who are dependent on drugs.

Recently Peter wrote an opinion piece in The Irish Times arguing why he believes drugs should be decriminalised and that the ‘war on drugs’ has failed wider society and the person dependent on drugs. That the punitive response is further damaging drug users and there are insufficient treatment facilities.

“Every drug user I have worked with has come to a point in their life when they wanted to give up drugs. There is then a small window of opportunity to help them. However, if treatment is not available, or if they have to go on long waiting lists, then the window of opportunity may close.”

Describing the cost to society, McVerry tells a story of attending court with a young man who has been charged with possession of cannabis to the value of €2. While he does not attempt to calculate the actual financial cost, the total must be staggering as it is adjourned four times: several court appearances which Gardái have to attend, free legal aid, judicial salary – not to mention the cost of a prison sentence.

Furthermore, he notes the wider social costs and why these are rarely taken into account when discussing the ‘war on drugs’:

“On average, a person using illegal drugs on a regular basis might commit two crimes a day to pay for their habit. If a person joins a six-month waiting list, they may commit 350 crimes while waiting for treatment. If, after five years, they have remained drug-free, society has been spared some 3,500 crimes... Of course, you cannot see 3,500 crimes not being committed so it is difficult to persuade politicians that treatment is value for money.”

If you would like to read more on Peter McVerry’s views on drugs in Ireland, see below:

Drug Policy: Need for Radical Change? - Fr. Peter McVerry SJ writes in a special issue of Working Notes.
Fr. McVerry in Late Late Show debate on decriminalising drugs
Fr. McVerry discusses drug gangs and decriminalisation on Radio 1
For the full article in the Irish Times click here.

Posted in Criminality, Prisons and Justice News

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