I wrote recently in the Prison Journal about the relationship between Ministers and Civil Servants and the effect this can have on prison policy.
I looked at the relationship between Charles Haughey as Minister for Justice and Peter Berry as Secretary of the Department of Justice, the most senior civil servant within the Department.
I found that this was a very progressive time for Irish prison policy and both Minister and civil servant were intent on pushing forward proposals in a way which had never been seen previously. This resulted in a number of positive changes in Irish prison policy, such as the reopening of the school in Mountjoy, the establishment of a psychiatric wing in that prison, investment in aftercare and improvement of prison trades. There were even plans afoot later in the decade to convert abandoned farms into places of work for individual prisoners and their families, such was the change in thinking.
The essential difference in this period was the presence of two highly active and energetic individuals determined to make a mark on prison policy. That’s an encouraging thought. Read more here.