· Minister addresses Inaugural Irish Criminal Justice Conference at Wheatfield Place of Detention 
· Fitzgerald calls for greater use supervised community sanctions
· Minister says that the Penal Policy Review will not be another unimplemented report

20 September 2014

Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Justice & Equality, has today called for a greater policy focus on reducing crime through reducing reoffending. 

The Minister said: “We know that supervised community sanctions for those convicted of lesser, particularly non-violent offences, are proven to help reduce rates of reoffending, thereby reducing crime and delivering a real return for broader society.”

The Minister referred to Recidivism Studies by Central Statistics CSO have shown that offenders who received either a Probation Order or a Community Service Order in 2007 and 2008 had a re-offending rate nearly 50% lower than those who had received a custodial sentence (41% vs 62%).

The Minister stated: “I intend to proceed with the Criminal Justice (Community Sanctions) Bill which will strengthen the legislative framework for supervised community sanctions.”

Minister Fitzgerald was speaking in Wheatfield Place of Detention where she was addressing the Inaugural Irish Criminal Justice Conference, organised by the Association for Criminal Justice Research and Development

The Minister said the conference was timely follow-up to last Wednesday’s launch of the Penal Policy Review.

Minister Fitzgerald reiterated her views on penal policy, which she said must be focused on the dual goals of punishment and prevention. The Minister stated: “There is a societal need for punishment to be served must be met. But there is also a societal gain to be grasped, in reducing crime through reducing re-offending. What this also means is that while prisons will remain part of the answer, prison will not be the only answer. Serious offenders & serial offenders must continue to be imprisoned. But we must also move more towards the of supervised community sanctions for those convicted of lesser, particularly non-violent offences, which in turn can help in reduce reoffending, thereby reducing crime.”

Minister Fitzgerald also told the conference that implementation is critical. 

The Minister stated: “I think we can all agree that in Ireland, in the past, we have had plenty of reports, but not enough implementation. I will not let this to be the case with the Penal Policy Review. I will not let this be another unimplemented report. What is different now, 30 years on from the Whitaker Report, is I believe the existence of the deep-rooted determination and political will to make change happen in penal policy.”