Changing shape and shifting boundaries - the media portrayal of probation in Ireland

  • Niamh Maguire (Lecturer in Criminology, Probation and Criminal Justice Systems at Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland, email:
  • Nicola Carr (Lecture in Criminology at Queen’s University, Belfast, email:

Literature on the media representation of probation highlights that probation as a ‘brand’ and concept is poorly understood and lacks public visibility. This has implications for its legitimacy and credibility. In this article we explore probation’s visibility in one country, the Republic of Ireland, through a critical analysis of print media representations of probationover a 12-year period (2001 to 2012). While our study finds that the majority of the coverage of probation was either positive or neutral in tone, we note a recent shift towards a more negative tone that we argue is reflective of the changing shape of the penal-probation boundaries. These changes are linked to resourcing of the criminal justice system and have implications for the public perception of probation.

Keywords: Probation, Ireland, media representation, credibility

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