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The Irish Times: Life Sentences and Parole Reform

6th September 2016

Writing in today’s Irish Times, Conor Gallagher considers the need to reform sentencing for murder in the article ‘Should judges be able to pose a minimum term for murder?’ The author highlights the absence of a ‘scale of seriousness’ in sentencing for murder cases, which does not take into account the context in which these crimes are committed.

Executive Director of IPRT, Deirdre Malone, is quoted in the article as saying:

“The current system does not allow any distinctions to be made at sentencing on the particular circumstances of the offence and any aggravating or mitigating factors which may have been present.

Currently, life sentence prisoners are subject to a release process that lacks formality, transparency and independence.”

IPRT is in favour of the establishment of a Sentencing Council. From the article, the Council "would set sentencing guidelines for the courts to follow based on aggravating and mitigating factors and offender characteristics".

According to Deirdre Malone,“These measures would not only address concerns relating to the consistency, transparency and predictability of sentencing practice but would strengthen public confidence in the system. Given what is at stake for everyone in the system, it is imperative that the systems of both sentencing and parole be reformed”.

The role of the Parole Board within the system is also considered.

Read the article here.

Also in today’s Irish Times, Ciarán D’Arcy explores the parole process in greater detail in an article titled ‘Nearly 20% of life sentences served outside prison’. Proposals for reform are also considered.  

Read the article here

For more on IPRT’s position on the need to reform Ireland's parole process, click here