In today’s Irish Times, Prof. Ian O’Donnell from UCD reflects on the current position of criminology within Ireland. In particular he explores how Irish studies have illuminated concepts such as Garland’s ‘culture of control’ by exploring this thesis in relation to the history of ‘coercive confinement’ in the Republic of Ireland. With Eoin O’Sullivan from TCD, O’Donnell has demonstrated that when all forms of coercive confinement are taken into account – i.e. Magdalenes, Psychiatric institutions, Industrial and Reformatory Schools etc, the numbers of people being detained by the State has actually decreased markedly over time. This calls into question the applicability of an increased ‘punitiveness’ thesis such as that put forward by Garland to the Irish situation.
Today’s article is an edited version of a keynote address given in Belfast at the sixth Irish Criminology Conference.