Mandatory sentences for drug dealing regularly flouted

Clare Daly, independent socialist TD for Dublin North
Clare Daly, independent socialist TD for Dublin North

The mandatory 10-year sentence for commercial-scale drug dealing is regularly flouted by judges, The Irish Times reports.

Only 3 per cent of convictions led to offenders being jailed for the mandatory term. One-third of convictions resulted in no prison time at all.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), which is opposed to mandatory sentencing, said the figures indicated that only small-time drug dealers were going through the courts.

Fíona Ní Chinnéide, IPRT’s acting executive director, said: “They set out to get the big guys and they got the small guys.”

Under the Misuse of Drugs Acts, courts must “specify a term of not less than 10 years as the minimum term of imprisonment” in cases involving the possession for sale or supply of illicit drugs valued at €12,500 or more unless there are “exceptional and specific circumstances” that would render the sentence “unjust in all the circumstances”.

However, just 25 of 825 sentences in such cases between 2011 and the present were for terms of 10 years or more.

Clare Daly, independent socialist TD for Dublin North, obtained the figures from Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

In 277 cases, the offenders were given a suspended sentence.

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