Prison oversight project wins ERC Proof of Concept grant

Posted on: 27 March 2023

Dr Mary Rogan, School of Law, has won a highly competitive European Research Council (ERC) Proof of Concept grant to continue her work on human rights and prison oversight.

The grant is a spin off award from her earlier €1.5m ERC-funded project on the inspection and monitoring of prisons (PRILA: Prisons: the rule of law, accountability and rights).

ERC Proof of Concept Awards, which are worth €150,000, support the exploration of the commercial and social innovation potential of ERC-funded discoveries.

To date, Trinity researchers have secured 19 Proof of Concept awards to progress their discoveries along the path from ground-breaking research discoveries towards innovative solutions. Prof Rogan’s Proof of Concept Award is the first such award to a researcher within the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Trinity.

The 18-month project ‘Prison Oversight: Improving Prison Oversight in Europe’ (POIRE) will provide support to governments and prison authorities preparing for a visit from the Council of Europe’s monitoring body for places of detention.

Drawing on findings of the earlier PRILA project, which showed low levels of awareness about bodies which monitor what happens in prison, the new project will also support people in prison to engage effectively with this important form of oversight. POIRE will lay the foundation for the development of a not-for-profit enterprise which supports better oversight of prisons internationally. Ultimately, the project seeks to support improved protections for human rights in places where they are vulnerable.

Dr Mary Rogan, Associate Professor in Law, said:

“Receiving a second award from the European Research Council for my work on prison oversight is hugely exciting. This award will allow me to work directly to support governments, prison systems and people in prison to engage better with much-needed independent, cross-European monitoring and oversight. I am looking forward to extending my existing ERC-funded work and developing the basis for a not-for-profit enterprise to support the promotion of human rights in detention.”

Dr Linda Doyle, Provost of Trinity, said: “Congratulations to Mary on this second ERC award. Mary has been a champion of greater understanding of, and respect for, human rights in prisons through her work with activists and policymakers on prison oversight and penal reform. This new initiative has great potential to improve human rights standards in places where they are often most vulnerable.”

Professor Sinead Ryan, Trinity’s Dean of Research, added: “I am very pleased to congratulate Mary as the first ERC Proof of Concept awardee from the Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences. One of the broader aims of Trinity’s Living Research Excellence Strategy is to build a world in which we want to live and this project shows the great potential of research from AHSS disciplines to contribute real, meaningful solutions to complex challenges facing our society.”

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