By Baoyan Zhang
Ten fourth-year UL students have designed a database for recording deaths in prison. Research by these ten students on the establishment of the database was written over the course of a semester, according to Steven Strauss-Walsh, who was involved in the project.
“My goal was to effect change and when such a database is established I will help change lives of oppressed people for the better and for me there can be no greater reward than that,” Mr Strauss-Walsh said. “While the research does not provide any definite solutions, it clarifies the questions that we should be asking which is just as important.”
The database will record personal details of deceased prisoners and data will be collected over time and used for significant sources for reform, in order to determine statistics such as causes of death.
Mr Strauss-Walsh said: “Prison does not cure prisoners. In fact, it does not even solve the enigma of how to effectively punish crime. It just produces criminals, who move through prison as if it were a revolving door. The question must be asked as to how exactly the penal system can be reformed and what a potentially better system might look like. I think the implication of this research is that it will raise weighty questions about the nature of crime and punishment in Ireland.”
The Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, offered high praise to the design of the database for gathering comprehensive information to encourage evidence-based policy within the Irish prison system. Professor Shane Kilcommins from UL School of Law and Dr. Eimear Spain in Health Law also supported the research.
The other nine students research participants are: Blathnaid Christian O’Shea, Caoilinn Doran, Cillian Flavin, Luke Mulcahy, Maire Ciepierski, Michelle Kavanagh, Rachel O’Carroll, Niall Foley, and Roisin Cahill.