The dramatic increase of 13.6% in committals to Irish prisons in 2008 is of great concern, with clear warning signals regarding the failing system of court-imposed fines, the impact of mandatory sentencing for drugs offences, and the sharp increase in short-term sentences.
Commenting on the publication of the Annual Report 2008 of the Irish Prison Service, Irish Penal Reform Trust today highlighted three critical issues:
- The increase of 88.7% in committals for non-payment of a court ordered fine demonstrates that the Courts supervision of fines is simply not working; imprisonment for fine default should be a measure of last resort.
- The increase of 38% in prisoners serving 10 years or more is a direct result of mandatory and presumptive sentencing practice; the benefits of such legislation is questionable when chronic overcrowding does not allow for meaningful engagement with rehabilitation treatments.
- The increase of 54% in short-term sentences (3 months or less) is also of great concern. Short-term sentences (of 6 months or less) cause more harm than good, and may even present a danger to society.
Increasing the size of and numbers in our prisons does not - and will not - reduce levels of crime. It merely serves to increase prisoner numbers.
Instead, building smaller prisons within the community, with emphasis on alternatives to custody and prison as a last resort, while investing in early intervention and prevention measures, will be of far greater benefit to society.
For all media enquiries, please contact:
Fíona Ní Chinnéide,
Campaigns & Communications Officer
Irish Penal Reform Trust
T: + 353 1 874 1400
Irish Prison Service Annual Report 2008The report can be accessed here.
- There was a 24.6% increase in sentenced committals in 2008.
- 43% of all committals under sentence in 2008 were for 3 months or less; 62% were for 6 months or less.
- 87.5% of sentenced committals in 2008 were for non-violent offences.
- 93% of women committed under sentence to prison in 2008 were for non-violent offences.
Scotland: Criminal Justice and Licensing BillThis Bill will introduce a presumption against sentences of six months or less, and see judges forced to provide clear reasons for handing down such a disposal. See: www.iprt.ie/contents/1251