Around the world, minority groups are overrepresented in prisons. In New Zealand, indigenous Maori people make up 15% of the population but half of the prison population while, in the US, black people are over five times more likely than white people to go to prison.
We already know that Ireland's prisons contain a disproportionate number of people - primarily men - from a relatively small number of postcodes. But can your ethnicity - particularly membership of the Traveller community - also affect your likelihood of going to prison? And do Travellers have equal access to justice and fair representation in the courts system?
In Ireland, members of the Traveller community comprise just 0.6% of the general population but 10% of the male and over 20% of the female prison population.
The Irish Prison Service now routinely gathers data on ethnicity, including Traveller ethnicity, at committal. Activists acknowledge that Travellers are more likely than the general population to be in prison, but point out that the life expectancy of Travellers is lower than the general population and they are routinely denied access to basic services.
HELP US INVESTIGATE
We want to find out if Travellers experience the same interactions with Gardaí as the wider population and how caution rates compare between Travellers and the wider community.
We want to research whether Travellers are, once charged, more likely to be convicted of the same crime than the wider community. We want to look at whether there are disparities between the sentences given to Travellers and the wider community for the same crimes.
Finally, we will investigate some of the wider issues, including poverty and educational inequality, which may affect how Travellers interact with the criminal justice system and ask: what can we do to change this?
Any information we obtain will be confidential and we will not publish anything without your permission. You can get in touch at [email protected] or for secure messaging, use the Threema app and contact us at ID: 5H3X4M5T
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