The aim of this new bail bill legislation according to Minister for Justice Francis Fitzgerald is 'To improve the operation of the bail system and make the law as effective as possible in protecting the public while also safe guarding the rights of the individual'.
Examples of amendments included in this new legislation:
- The courts must give reasons for bail decisions.
- Updating the legislative basis for electronic tagging of individuals on bail.
- Giving the District Court power to refuse bail where there is an appeal against a sentence of imprisonment imposed by that court.
By making judges give reasons for granting bail in writing this formalises the process and makes the judiciary more accountable for their decisions. IPRT has been a long term supporter of judges giving clear reasons for each individuals imprisonment. The hope is that increased transparency will produce reliable data and trends for policy makers and the public, instead of them relying on anecdotes and high profiled media cases for information regarding imprisonment.
These bail amendments fall in line with the new Victims of Crime Bill (2015) with bringing the victim to the centre of the decision making process. This will see Courts hear evidence from victims before bail decisions are made.
This raises a question of concern surrounding how keeping more people in jail will fair in an already overcrowded prison system and how does this new bail legislation fall in line with the concept of rehabilitation not retribution?
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