[IPRT Executive Director Fíona Ní Chinnéide. Photo: Oireachtas TV.]
IPRT appeared before the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality on Wednesday 10 July 2019 to give evidence as part of the Committee’s examination of spent convictions legislation. IPRT was represented by Fíona Ní Chinnéide and Michelle Martyn. Other witnesses before the Committee included: Senator Lynn Ruane, Dr TJ McIntyre (UCD), and Niall Walsh (Pathways).
One of IPRT’s long-standing campaigns is for an effective spent convictions scheme in Ireland – one that allows people who are law-abiding and who have stopped offending move on with their lives. This is rooted in the recognition that having a criminal record presents barriers to those very protective factors that we know promote desistance from offending, including: employment, education and training, accommodation, and volunteering, among other areas.
Currently, having a criminal record in Ireland can amount to lifelong punishment that is disproportionate to the gravity of the offending behavior and that may have the unintended effect of undermining public safety.
IPRT has welcomed Criminal Justice (Rehabilitative Periods) Bill 2018 as a step towards a fairer system, and welcomes in particular the introduction of a new approach to offending aged 18 to 23. However, our position is that this Bill could go much further to facilitate reintegration and rehabilitation.
Our recommendations are as follows:
- Remove the limit to the number of convictions that can become spent
- Expand the eligibility of convictions that can become spent
- Incentivise rehabilitation by setting proportionate and reasonable rehabilitative periods
- Enhance public safety through legislation and policy
- Recognise that rehabilitation is at the heart of a victim-centred criminal justice system
For more, IPRT's Opening Statement is available here.
A video of the Committee meeting is available on the Oireachtas website, with IPRT appearing from 00:41:50.
For our previous work on spent convictions, see www.iprt.ie/spent-convictions