5th February 2015
The eighth seminar for the All Party Oireachtas Penal Reform Group of TDs and Senators discussed the need to pass the Spent Convictions Bill without further delay.
The event, chaired by Ivana Bacik, heard from Deirdre Malone, Executive Director of IPRT; Christopher Stacey, CEO of Unlock in the UK; and a former prisoner who now works in education of prisoners and former prisoners.
Oireachtas members heard about how the effects of the lack of second chance legislation in Ireland perpetuates the cycle of offending for many people, presenting barriers to travel, education and employment. Ireland is the only country in the EU that does not have such legislation.
It was noted that the current delays due to amendments of the Bill were opportunities to re-examine some of the Bill's more restrictive measures and bring Ireland closer to the UK regime, where there is no limit to the number of convictions which can be spent and the length of sentence which can be spent is up to four years, rather than the proposed 12 months in Ireland. This was qualified by the assertion that it is paramount that the Bill be passed as soon as possible.
Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.