Saturday 16 December 2017

Extra jail time for repeat offenders would protect public

The debate needs to shift away from bail and towards a proportionate system of 'enhanced sentencing', writes Dan O'Brien

LEGAL DILEMMA: About 45pc of criminals released from prison have been convicted of new offences within three years
LEGAL DILEMMA: About 45pc of criminals released from prison have been convicted of new offences within three years
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

How does society balance the rights of old women to sleep safely in their beds and the rights of hardcore career criminals? Is it fair that an innocent person's life is ended violently because another person, who has already committed dozens of violent crimes, has been given yet another chance?

At what point does a criminal's repeat offending become so repeated, and cause so many innocents to suffer, that the perpetrator loses his or her liberty for a period beyond the standard jail term for the latest crime he or she has committed?

These questions were raised by cases in the news in recent weeks. Last week, it was reported that a drunk driver who killed an 18 year old in Donegal in 2012 had almost 500 previous convictions. The week before, two cases before the courts highlighted the questions: an 89-year-old woman was tortured in her home by two serial recidivists with 120 previous convictions between them and another man was assaulted and robbed by two brothers with 326 combined previous convictions.

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