Linking the network of institutions of confinement throughout Ireland with the development of penal welfarism in Ireland, the issue arose as to what extent the concept of rehabilitation had been 'farmed out' to sites such as the Mother and Baby Home, and the industrial school. For example, the industrial schools were originated with a clearly rehabilitationist ethos underpinning the 19th century legislation which established them. Certainly, benign intentions were evident behind the inception of many of the institutions, despite subsequent neglect and failure. In this vein, one of the intended rehabilitating features of places such as the Mother and Baby Homes, namely their discretionary nature which was viewed as less stigmatising and therefore of more benefit to women resuming lives after confinement, was actually a factor which went on to contribute to the abuses as limited State intervention and considerable autonomy saw these sites operate without check for decades.
What factors underpinned and drove the use of coercive confinement in Ireland? Their sophisticated analysis illuminates the fundamental role of the rural economy in sustaining high levels of coercive confinement in Ireland. This is a tricky and sensitive topic, and the authors handle it in a fair and considerate manner.