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.

UK: 'Community or Custody: Which Works Best?' (Final Report)

12th September 2011

Make Justice Work have today published the findings of the National Enquiry, set up to investigate the efficacy and cost of short term prison sentences versus robust community based alternatives for low-level offenders.

(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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

IPRT Briefing: Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2011

23rd March 2011

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.

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.

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.

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

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