Established in 2010, the Irish Sentencing Information System (ISIS) was developed to enable judges, lawyers or anybody with an interest, to access information on the range of sentences and other penalties which have been imposed for particular types of offence in previous cases. The website, irishsentencing.ie, contains statistics on sentencing, case law on issues surrounding sentencing, information on judgments as well as academic articles pertaining to sentencing. The project is overseen by a Steering Committee of judges, together with an expert on Sentencing Law, Tom O’Malley B.L., appointed by the Courts Service Board.
The new bulletin aims to give brief details of new developments in sentencing policy and practice at home and abroad, sentencing guidelines and alert readers to relevant publications existing and new. Overall, Tom O’Malley’s first bulletin gives a clear, measured and concise analysis of developments in sentencing.
The ISIS has given much-needed insight into the sentencing processes of the courts that have been regularly criticised as inconsistent and incoherent. The ISIS ‘Analysis of Manslaughter Sentencing 2007-2012’ report published on March 19th 2013, highlights the fact that radically different sentences can be imposed for the same offence, showing the considerable room for discretion afforded to judges when deciding on an appropriate punishment.
IPRT has for several years identified the issue of mandatory and presumptive sentencing as a key factor in the dramatic increase in our prison population over the last decade. At IPRT’s 2012 Annual Lecture in September Mr Justice Colman Treacy spoke on the work of the Sentencing Council of England and Wales in his lecture ‘Sentencing Guidelines and the Sentencing Council: ‘promoting greater consistency in sentencing’.