The IPRT submission to the Law Reform Commission consultation process on mandatory sentencing, submitted in April 2012, is available here.
IPRT has long been calling for a review of mandatory sentencing. In our Position Paper on Mandatory Sentencing, IPRT found that the practice:
- removes the opportunity for judges to use their discretion and impose sentences that are appropriate in the particular circumstances of the case
- is ineffective as a deterrent, and impacts negatively on imprisonment rates
- can undermine the integrity of the criminal justice system, forcing judges, prosecutors, and defence lawyers to ‘negotiate justice’.
Among the features of the current legislative scheme that are especially problematic are: the subjective financial categorisation of drugs; possession rather than control of drugs as the primary factor; and lack of a distinction between different types of drugs.
IPRT believes that mandatory and presumptive sentences should be removed from the statute book in Ireland. Instead, alternatives to mandatory sentencing should be introduced to address the concerns relating to the consistency, transparency and predictability of sentencing practice.