9th November 2020
IPRT has long advocated for an effective spent convictions scheme in Ireland that allows people who have stopped offending move on with their lives. Having a criminal record can present a barrier to those protective factors that support desistance from offending, including, inter alia, employment, education and training, housing, and volunteering. Given this, we welcomed the launch of the public consultation on spent convictions policy by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD.
A criminal record can amount to lifelong punishment that is disproportionate to the gravity of the offending behaviour and often has the effect of compounding economic and social exclusion. By excluding people with convictions from the labour market, society loses skills and talent while paying costs associated with a lack of productivity. On the other hand, more expansive schemes of expungement can support safer communities, improve access to the labour market, and interrupt intergenerational cycles of offending.
Although data is not available on the number of people who carry convictions in Ireland, research in Scotland and in England & Wales estimates that a third of the adult male population and one in 10 adult females has a convictions history. Therefore, IPRT welcomes that the Department is engaging in a public consultation on the issue, given the significant potential benefit and wide relevance to the general population.
Core to the spirit of rehabilitation is the principle that any person who has demonstrated their commitment to move on from offending through the completion of a conviction-free period should be able to benefit. Ireland has so far lagged behind in this regard compared to other countries. This is now an opportunity to lead the way in rehabilitative legislation, and transform lives and communities positively.
IPRT's submission to the consultation considers:
IPRT recommendations are as follows:
Read the IPRT Submission to the Public Consultation on Spent Convictions in full here or download it below.
IPRT's statement on the publication of the submission is available here.
Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.