Sentencing

A strategic goal of IPRT is to promote reform of Irish sentencing practice in a number of key areas.

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.

IPRT believes that mandatory and presumptive sentencing regimes are not effective. By removing or restricting judicial discretion, it denies the courts of the opportunity to choose sentences which are fair, proportionate and that reflect all the relevant circumstances of specific cases.

We also advocate for publication of sentencing data and analysis of this data. 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: The Cost of Short Sentences 10th March 2010

A new report by the National Audit Office in the UK highlights the social and economic cost of short sentences. Read more

US: Downsizing the Prison Population 10th March 2010

The reduction of the prison population is the focus of two US reports. Read more

IPRT Briefing: Fines Bill 2009 (Report Stage) 1st March 2010 PDF documents

A short document outlining amendments to the Fines Bill 2009, necessary to ensure that imprisonment is used only as a last resort for fine default. Read more

Scotland: Police Chief calls for radical overhaul of community sentences 19th February 2010

Chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police, David Strang, calls for a radical change in way the system as a whole works to prevent crime rather than simply mop up the aftermath. Read more

Sentencing back in the Spotllight. 8th February 2010

Following a recent high profile-case, sentencing is back in the media spotlight Read more

RTE's 'The Frontline': Mandatory Sentencing for Burglary 1st February 2010

The issue of mandatory sentencing for burglary was the subject of RTE's 'The Frontline' this week; IPRT's Liam Herrick and others voice their opposition to such moves. Read more

Scotland: Using short term sentences does more harm than good. 9th June 2009

Locking up prisoners for short periods of six months or less could endanger public safety, according to prison chiefs in Scotland. (The Carrick Gazette) Read more

Position Paper on Mandatory Sentencing 28th May 2009

A Position Paper, published May 2009, outlining IPRT's position on mandatory and presumptive sentencing. Read more

Sentencing in the District Courts, 2003 7th January 2005 PDF documents

In June 2003, the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) undertook a research study on patterns of sentencing in the Dublin District Court. Read more

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