These Reforms are Long Overdue, Murder, should mean, 25 Years, not Parole after 12 Years, Victims Families, will Welcome this? Minor Crimes, should be, Working the Time off, Cleaning up, Graveyards, and the Rest?

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Murderers could face a minimum 25 years in prison as judges get new powers under sweeping reforms

– 3h ago

Judges are to be given new powers to set minimum terms for life sentences and will have more discretion to sentence low-risk offenders to community service instead of prison.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee is bringing a series of reforms recommended by a working group examining Irish penal policy before Cabinet today.

Under the proposed reforms offenders sentenced to life in prison for crimes that a judge considers particularly heinous, including murder, could receive a minimum term of, for example, 20 to 25 years without parole.

At present the time served by a life-sentence prisoner before being considered for parole is 12 years with the average term for life in prison working out at 18 years.

The Government will also be asked to examine the effectiveness of use of mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes and to consider incorporating the principle of prison as a sanction of last resort in law for those who do not pose a risk of serious harm.

There is no question of the person not being punished, we’d be doing it in a different way

There is no question of the person not being punished, we’d be doing it in a different way

This would mean people convicted for crimes that currently carry a prison sentence of three months or less and are at low risk of reoffending may receive community service instead of prison time.

A range of community-based sanctions including alternatives to imprisonment to reduce re-offending will be developed and expanded, according to the plans set to be approved by ministers today.

“There is no question of the person not being punished, we’d be doing it in a different way,” a Government source said.

Ministers will be told that the increased use of community sanctions should result in some savings to the State in the longer term as the cost of imprisonment per year is approximately 14 times that of community-based sanctions.

The increased use of community-based sanctions should be mitigated by the more targeted and appropriate use of imprisonment only for those who pose a risk of serious harm.

Ireland has a relatively low rate of imprisonment by international standards at 74.4 per 100,000 of population with only 16 out of 47 countries reviewed by the Council of Europe having countries having lower imprisonment rates.

The penal policy working group, which included the Department of Justice’s Head of Criminal Justice Policy, the Director General of the Irish Prison Service and the Director of the Probation Service, also suggests broadening the range of spent convictions whereby a person does not have to disclose offences they were convicted of after seven years.

It also suggests increasing capacity to deliver restorative justice, a review of remission and temporary release to enhance the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders, a review of the impact of fines legislation with regard to the imposition of short custodial sentences and implement a number of policies to prevent young adults from offending.

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