IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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IPRT Submission on Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012

20th January 2016

The Spent Convictions Bill 2012 is scheduled to return to the Oireachtas next week.

IPRT strongly welcomes this move. Spent convictions legislation will benefit tens of thousands of voters, and would be a real win for all members of the Oireachtas before the dissolution of the 31st Dáil.

Spent Convictions is not about mitigating punishment – it is about rehabilitation. It is about acknowledging and supporting a person’s successful efforts to move on from offending behaviour by removing barriers from participation in employment, education, housing and insurance.

IPRT believes that the legislation can be made stronger with a few key amendments. You can see the full list and supporting arguments for IPRT’s proposals here.

To this end, IPRT restates its priority proposals for amendment:

  • The definition of “excluded sentences” in section 1 of the Bill should be amended to include at least “sentences of 30 months or less”, or preferably to “sentences of 48 month or less” (as it is in the UK).
  • The definition “relevant non-custodial sentences” in section 1 of the Bill to include all sentences which are suspended in whole and which are not subsequently revoked.
  • The limit on the number of convictions to which the spent convictions legislation will apply should be removed.

IPRT believes that these limits can be raised without any risk to public safety, nor any risk of diminishing the punishment handed down by the Courts.

Moreover, it is the length of time since a person has offended is the clearest indication that they have moved away from offending behaviour, and not the number of times they may have offended in the past.

#makehistory 2016?

This is a once in a lifetime chance to make the strongest legislation which supports the maximum number of people in their demonstrated move away from offending behaviour. It is also an opportunity to make history, after decades of inaction.

Although IPRT believes the 2012 Bill should be strengthened to reach its intended purpose of removing barriers to reintegration, overall IPRT is strongly supportive of the general approach taken, and we hope that the Bill can be enacted as quickly as possible.

Download the IPRT Submission here.

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