IPRT analysis criticises flagship Renua election pledges

Lucinda Creighton
Lucinda Creighton

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has published analysis of the Renua Ireland manifesto for this year’s Irish general election.

The IPRT, which campaigns for progressive reform of Irish penal policy, said the party founded and led by former government minister Lucinda Creighton had displayed a focus on “traditional punitive responses to crime”.

It is the first in a series of IPRT analyses of the justice policies put forward by parties in the upcoming general election.

One of Renua’s flagship policies is the introduction of a “three strikes rule” for serious criminal offences, with a mandatory life sentence on the successful prosecution of the third offence.

The IPRT analysis said there is “no evidence from Ireland or abroad that mandatory sentencing works to address any category of offending”.

It continues: “All that mandatory sentencing achieves is increasing the numbers of people in prison, at significant cost to the state. If community safety is at the centre of the criminal justice strategy, then mandatory sentencing represents a very poor investment.”

It also criticised plans to make parents responsible for juvenile crime, saying this failed to “acknowledge the causes of offending behaviour: poverty, educational disadvantage, mental health issues, addictions, and chaotic family backgrounds to name but a few”.

The IPRT said proposals to make parents pay the court costs of proceedings where their children are found guilty would impact “disproportionately on poor, marginalised and socially-excluded communities”.

It called instead for investment in “prevention and early intervention strategies which have been proven to reduce crime and strengthen communities”.

However, the IPRT also said it fully supports Renua’s commitment to legislation placing the Parole Board on an independent statutory basis.

The IPRT also welcomed the party’s proposal to use data analysis to identify where criminal justice resources would be most effective in a bid to tackle rural crime.

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