Irish Penal Reform Trust

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.

IPRT Submissions to the Law Reform Commission

9th February 2018

IPRT made two submissions to the Law Reform Commission for their Fifth Programme of Law Reform.

The Campbell Collaboration - Policy Brief 4: The Effects of Sentencing Policy on Re-Offending

14th November 2017

The Campbell Collaboration released a fourth Policy Brief, 'The Effects of Sentencing Policy on Re-offending', which summarises information provided in 12 systematic reviews that focused on different aspects of sentencing policy, such as, benefit-cost analyses of sentencing, formal processing of juveniles, and effects on re-offending of custodial vs non-custodial sanctions.

Sentencing Proposals: Sexual Offences

11th July 2017

IPRT has a number of concerns about proposals included in the Criminal Justice (Commission of Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2017 [PMB], which may have unintended negative consequences.

UK: Sentencing Council publishes new guidelines on sentencing children and young people and offenders who plead guilty

7th March 2017

The Sentencing Council (England & Wales) has published two new sentencing guidelines, to come into effect from 1st June 2017. One deals with how courts should make a reduction in sentence for offenders who plead guilty, and the other deals with the approach they should take when sentencing children and young people.

IPRT Position Paper 3: Mandatory Sentencing

22nd February 2017

A Position Paper setting out IPRT's position on mandatory and presumptive sentencing.

Parole Bill 2016

21st June 2016

The Parole Board is to be given statutory footing in a new Private Member's Bill brought before the Dáil this month.

US Study: Treating More Thefts as a Less-Serious Crime did not lead Property Crime to Increase

9th March 2016

Since 2001, more than 30 US states have raised the threshold on what can be charged as a serious theft. In a recent brief the PEW Charitable Trusts examined what impact, if any, this change had on the rates of theft in different states.

US: Is Sending More to Prison an Effective Way to Reduce Crime? It’s complicated…

4th March 2016

During the early 1990’s, violent crime levels were at record highs in the United States, but have since fallen to levels not seen since the 1960’s. In this brief, the PEW Charitable Trusts survey nine leading US scholars for their view on the role that a massively increased prison population had on this fall in crime.

U.S. Report: Ways of addressing the nation’s scale of incarceration

20th October 2015

The United States maintains its distinction as the nation with the highest rate of incarceration in the world. A report entitled, “The State of Sentencing 2014 Developments in Policy and Practice” was published by The Sentencing Project who are a national non-profit organization in the U S. The report documents the range of law and policy changes which were authorised by legislators in at least 30 states during 2014 which may have the effect of addressing the nation’s scale of incarceration.

The moral failures of America's prison-industrial complex

20th July 2015

An article in the Economist explains the moral issues of the mass-incarceration of Americans.

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.

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