IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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IPRT recognises the critical role of sentencing in the penal system.

Our starting point is that imprisonment itself causes a number of serious social harms, therefore imprisonment should only be used sparingly at the point of sentencing and the numbers in prison should be reduced.

As a key strategic goal for IPRT, we aim to promote the embedding and extension of the principle that detention should only be used as a last resort, while remaining committed to retaining and supporting the principles of proportionality and judicial independence in sentencing.

The principle of parsimony in the use of imprisonment is reflected in section 96 of the Children Act 2001, which directs sentencing courts to use imprisonment only as a last resort. IPRT believes that this principle should also be enshrined in legislation for adult offenders and that there should be an onus on judges to exhaust all other options before imposing a custodial sentence. IPRT will be monitoring closely over the next few years how this principle is being applied in relation to the youth justice system.

In practice, we believe that greater transparency in sentencing can be achieved as well as better coordination between sentencing authorities and other agencies on the penal system.

(UK) Restorative Justice: Time for Action 8th September 2011

The Criminal Justice Alliance (CJA) welcomes the commitment set out in the Governments recent response to the 'Breaking the Cycle' consultation to use restorative justice interventions at each stage of the justice system. Read more

MEDIA ADVISORY: IPRT welcomes passing of Community Service Order legislation 28th July 2011

IPRT has today welcomed the passing of the 'Criminal Justice (Community Service)(Amendment)(No. 2) Bill 2011' through both Houses of the Oireachtas; this brings IPRT's vision of a penal system where imprisonment is used only as a last resort closer to reality. Read more

US: Drug Courts success in reducing drug taking and crime 19th July 2011

A large study of Drug Courts in the United States has shown the success of the Courts in reducing both drug taking and crime. Read more

No Winners: The reality of short term prison sentences 8th June 2011

A new report from the Howard League of Penal Reform and the Prison Governors Association in the UK has found that prisoners prefer short term sentences to community service because they are easier. Read more

UK: Ministry of Justice: Compendium of re-offending statistics and analysis 10th May 2011

A new report published today highlights the impact short sentences have on re-offending rates. Read more

UK: Sentencing Council - Drug Offences Guideline Public Consultation 28th March 2011

The Sentencing Council in the UK have launched a three month public consultation on sentencing for drug offences. In their draft guideline, they focus on the various factors that need to be considered when sentencing drug offenders. Read more

IPRT Briefing: Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2011 23rd March 2011 PDF documents

A short analysis of the Community Service Bill which will be discussed in the Dáil on 24th March 2011. IPRT welcomes the Bill from the new Minister for Justice, Mr.Alan Shatter. Read more

Community Service Bill back in Dáil: Second Stage 21st March 2011

The Criminal Justice (Community Service)(Amendment)(No. 2) Bill 2011 is tabled for consideration by the Dáil on Thurs, 24th March. IPRT has previously welcomed this new legislation which brings our vision of a penal system where imprisonment is used only as a last resort closer to reality. Read more

IPRT welcomes publication of Criminal Justice Bill 12th January 2011

The legislation, published today, will require the courts to consider imposing a community service order for minor offences where it would otherwise be appropriate to sentence the offender to imprisonment for a period of up to six months. Read more

Imprisonment for non payment of debt 16th December 2010

In a report released today the Irish Law Reform Commission recommended that imprisonment for non payment of debt should be abolished within the state. Read more

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