Wednesday 7 December 2016

Prisons: New bid to keep places for serious criminals

Published 25/11/2010 | 05:00

A BIGGER effort will be made to "reserve" prison places for serious criminals.

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In the light of the recent increase in the prison population, the Government said it was determined to ensure imprisonment is used only as a last resort.

Last year 4,800 people were sent to jail for non-payment of fines and a number of measures have been introduced to tackle this problem.

With effect from January, the courts will have to take into account the capacity of an offender to pay a fine before deciding on the amount.

Later in the year changes will be made to allow fines to be paid by instalment and where a person wilfully refuses to pay up, the first option will be seizure of their goods.

If that proves unsuccessful, the courts will consider community service.

The plan points out that a large number of those sent to jail are serving sentences of six months or less and legislation is being drafted to impose a legal obligation on judges to consider imposing community service in cases, where they might, otherwise, hand down a sentence of six months, or less.

Measures have already been implemented to stop people being jailed for non-payment of civil debt.

Irish Independent

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