The Law Reform Commission, in 2017, invited submissions to their Consultation on Suspended Sentences. IPRT were pleased to make a submission, which answers specific questions posed by the Commission. The submission is available to view here.
Some of the topics covered in the submission are as follows:
- IPRT does not believe that a presumption of custody is appropriate for the majority of offences. Imprisonment should be reserved only for the most serious, violent offences.
- IPRT believes that suspended sentences, if used correctly, are a way of providing structured support and assistance to an offender and thus can have a strong rehabilitative effect.
- It is IPRT’s position that presumptive minimum sentences in Ireland should be repealed. No further presumptive minimum sentencing regimes should be introduced and that there should be a review of the current sentencing regime that applies to drugs offences and firearm offences in Ireland. Other issues associated with this form of sentencing are set out in IPRT’s Position Paper on Mandatory Sentencing.
- IPRT believes there is need for a mechanism to monitor the use of suspended sentences and revocations of suspended sentences, as well as the application and efficacy of all other forms of sentencing options.
- When an offence is committed during the currency of a suspended sentence, the current situation means that suspended sentences can only be "manually" reactivated following application by the Gardaí or Probation Service. The lack of an automatic mechanism means that suspended sentences do not operate as they are intended.
For more on the benefits of community sanctions, see IPRT's 2017 Discussion Paper on Community Service in Ireland.