19th January 2012
[Updated 20th January 2012]
The Law Reform Commission has today (19th January 2012) published a Consultation Paper on Mandatory Sentences. The Consultation Paper recommends that:
IPRT backs the call from the Law Reform Commission for the current minimum mandatory sentence for the possession of large quantities of drugs to be reviewed.
Irish prison numbers have rocketed since mandatory sentencing for drugs offences was introduced, and yet there is little evidence that there has been any positive impact in terms of decreasing drug crime. IPRT believes that the high cost and low effectiveness of mandatory sentencing in addressing drug crime demands a review, and IPRT has consistently called for a repeal of mandatory sentencing to allow judges to consider different levels of activity in the drug trade and the particular circumstances of each case.
IPRT also supports the Law Reform Commission’s recommendation that the proposed Judicial Council take the lead in setting sentencing guidelines, which we believe would lead to more consistency in sentencing, particularly at District Court level.
There are very important issues around the life sentence for murder, including whether there should be a mandatory life sentence for murder at all, and also how the current parole process operates. IPRT will be making detailed submissions to the consultation process on these issues.
IPRT has long been calling for a review of mandatory sentencing. In our Position Paper on Mandatory Sentencing, IPRT found that the practice:
IPRT also dealt comprehensively with the issue in our submission to the White Paper on Crime: 3 - Organised and White Collar Crime. Among the features of the current legislative scheme that are especially problematic are: (i) the subjective financial categorisation of drugs; possession rather than control of drugs as the primary factor; and lack of a distinction between different types of drugs.