Second Discussion Document - 'Criminal Sanctions'
This discussion document, Second Discussion Document – Criminal Sanctions, is the second in a series of discussion documents to be published leading to the publication of a White Paper on Crime.
As was the case with the first discussion document ("Crime Prevention and Community Safety") this paper is aimed at the general reader and comprises a non-specialist overview of the issue, together with a number of questions to assist in shaping discussion and feedback.
The paper sets out the current range of sanctions applied in Ireland.
This document asks:
- what role should sanctions play as part of an overall response to crime?
- how well is the existing approach working to prevent and reduce crime?
- how should policy in this area best be developed and implemented?
The document begins by setting out some of the most commonly cited aims of imposing a sanction and how these might contribute to crime prevention and public protection. In particular, the role of sanctions in deterrence, incapacitation and rehabilitation is highlighted.
The document then outlines the current range of sanctions as applied in Ireland, covering custodial and non-custodial options. It discusses possible benefits and challenges presented by both approaches. Finally, the paper summarises the general framework for sentencing policy in Ireland and how it might be developed for the future.
Examples of the questions flagged for detailed consideration include:
- to what extent does imprisonment contribute to crime reduction and public protection?
- could greater use be made of non-custodial penalties?
- what types of non-custodial sanctions might be appropriate for less serious but persistent offenders?
- what kind of role should communities have in the operation of Community Service Orders?
- should mechanisms be put in place to curtail the number of short prison sentences?
- does Irish sentencing policy require greater structuring and, if so, how should this be achieved?
- how can public information and understanding of the sentencing process be improved?
Second Discussion Document - 'Criminal Sanctions' - Summary of Consultation Outcomes
In August 2010, the Department of Justice and Equality published two documents summarising the feedback received on the White Paper on Crime Discussion Document, 'Criminal Sanctions' (February 2010).
The first of these documents Second Discussion Document - White Paper on Crime outlines the written responses received by the Department following public requests for submissions.
The second, IPA Report on Consultation Meeting Criminal Sanctions 28th May 2010 prepared by the Institute of Public Administration (IPA), records the views expressed at a consultation seminar organised by the Department in Dublin Castle, on 28th May 2010 and facilitated by Dr. Barry Vaughan, NESC.
The Department received input from a wide range of organisations and individuals. The views expressed varied considerably.
Specific issues raised included:
- The need for clarity and consistency in sentencing
- The need for research into areas such as criminal sanctions and their effectiveness
- Expanding the use of non-custodial sanctions in general and Community Service Orders and Restorative Justice in particular
- Competing views as to the extent to which imprisonment should be used as a sanction
- Introduction of sentencing guidelines
- Mandatory sentencing
- The impacts of imprisonment on offenders and society
- Growth in prisoner numbers
- Prison conditions
- Expunging criminal records for minor offences
- Review of automatic remission for certain types of offences.