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.

England & Wales: Scrap prison building and increase non-custodial sanctions

21st June 2010

The Prison Governors Association, Napo (probation officers' union) and the Howard League have today called on the government to end its £4 billion prison building programme, and to instead increase the use of community sanctions.

Drug Treatment Court to be Expanded

24th May 2010

The numbers being processed through the Drug Treatment Court are to be expanded following a review which shows that the scheme has reduced reoffending rates.

Irish Times: Fines Bill passed by the Dáil

16th March 2010

After nearly a year, the Fines Bill has been passed by the Dail and has gone to the Seanad for its approval. It is hoped that the draft legislation will become law by the summer.

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.

US: Downsizing the Prison Population

10th March 2010

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

IPRT Briefing: Fines Bill 2009 (Report Stage)

1st March 2010

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.

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.

Sentencing back in the Spotllight.

8th February 2010

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

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.

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)

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

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