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The Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality will resume its hearings on penal reform tomorrow, Wednesday, 27th February 2013 when it meets with Mark Johnson, Founder, User Voice.

Committee Chairman David Stanton, TD, said: “Our sub-Committee on Penal Reform’s role is to examine the possible use of non-custodial alternatives to imprisonment – in particular strategies which might involve some form of early release. The Committee is concerned at the issue of overcrowding in prisons and the role of prisons in dealing with some minor offences. It is important to hear at first-hand from those involved in the Penal system and also from those parties with proposals on penal reform

Mark Johnson has personal experience of the UK’s penal system and has distinct views on penal reform. He had a history of serious crime, homelessness and drug abuse. He went through rehabilitation at the age of 29, and since then has become a leading figure in the criminal justice reform movement. He set up User Voice in 2009 and its mission is to engage those who have experience of the criminal justice system in bringing about its reform and to reduce offending. As head of a charity led and delivered by ex-offenders, Mark Johnson is in a position to give a unique insight into the criminal justice system and we’re looking forward to getting his perspective on penal reform.”

The meeting will start in Committee Room 2, Leinster House at 2pm on Wednesday, 27th February 2013.

Committee proceedings can be followed live at: