Ivana Bacik: Radical reform of our penal system will lead to a safer society for us all
THE report on penal reform published yesterday contains five practical recommendations for change. If adopted, these would bring about a real change in our penal culture – to enable greater rehabilitation of prisoners, reduce re-offending rates and contribute to a safer society for all.
In brief, the report recommends that the Government should take five specific penal policy actions: reduce prison numbers; commute prison sentences of less than six months for non-violent offences; increase standard remission from one-quarter to one-third and introduce an incentivised remission scheme of up to one-half; introduce legislation for structured release, temporary release, parole and community return and, finally, address prison conditions and overcrowding and increase the use of open prisons.
These recommendations by the Oireachtas Justice Committee were developed by a penal reform sub-committee set up by the Justice Committee at my initiative in October 2011, chaired by David Stanton TD.