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.

Developing Sentencing Guidelines for Ireland: The Principles and Purposes of Sentencing

21st October 2021

The next IPRT and ICBA Prison Law Seminar will take place online on Thursday 21st October 2021, at 4.30pm.

Scottish Sentencing Council: Public perceptions of sentencing for sexual offences

8th July 2021

This research examines in-depth public perceptions of sentencing of sexual offences in Scotland, including the perceptions of victims of sexual offences.

Mandatory minimum sentencing: High Court decision on section 27(3F) of the Misuse of Drugs Act

7th June 2021

The High Court has ruled that mandatory minimum sentencing for those with previous convictions for serious drug trafficking is contrary to the Constitution.

Guest blog: Developing smart principles for sentencing guidelines in Ireland

12th March 2021

A guest blog post from academic researchers Dr. Ian D. Marder (Maynooth University) and Dr. Eoin Guilfoyle (University of Bristol) on the principles that might underpin sentencing guidelines in Ireland.

Sentencing Burglary, Drug Importation and Murder: Evidence From Ten Countries

11th January 2021

The Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research (ICPR) has published a report revealing disparities between countries in their approaches to criminal sentencing. The overarching aims of the ten-country project are to understand the drivers of prison population trends, and to devise measures for reducing levels of incarceration.

UK: The Effectiveness of Sentencing Options – A review of key research findings

6th January 2021

The Sentencing Academy (England and Wales) has published a report examining research findings on the effectiveness, particularly in terms of reducing re-offending, of three sentencing disposals.

Children Held on Remand in Victoria: A Report on Sentencing Outcomes

2nd October 2020

This report by the Sentencing Advisory Council (Australia) considers the relationship between remand and sentencing, and identifies the proportion of remanded children who did not go on to receive a custodial sentence for their offending.

Law Reform Commission publishes Report on Suspended Sentences

31st August 2020

The Law Reform Commission has published a 'Report on Suspended Sentences'. The report examines the legislation and the principles that underpin the operation of suspended sentences in Ireland and makes a number of proposals as to how the suspended sentence might be used more effectively.

Dramatic increase in prison committals points to policy failures that must be addressed – IPRT

15th June 2020

MEDIA ADVISORY: The Irish Prison Service Annual Report 2019 shows a significant increase of people committed to prison in Ireland in 2019, including a 21% increase in the number of committals for sentences of less than 12 months and a worrying increase in committals for the non-payment of court-ordered fines.

'SPACE I' Annual Penal Statistics: Prison Populations 2019

7th April 2020

The Council of Europe (CoE) has published 'SPACE I' Annual Penal Statistics on Prison Populations 2019. The report contains a detailed breakdown of penological trends across Europe. See IPRT's summary of key findings from both European and Irish perspectives.

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

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