Starting Tariffs - Homicide

2.1       AdVIC believes that prison sentences are not handed down of sufficient length to deter criminal activity and/or ensure offenders are not circulating in society to commit further crimes.

2.2       AdVIC does not comment on the “quality” or otherwise of how a prison sentence is served and in this regard, is also open to the introduction of best international rehabilitative practices in Irish prisons.

2.3       AdVIC is only concerned with the length of sentences served by those convicted of homicide in this jurisdiction whether GC or NGC.

2.4       Currently, when deciding on sentence (outside murder) the judge will consider:

  • the seriousness of the offence
  • how this “seriousness” may be mitigated

2.5       Reasons for mitigation are numerous and enumerated. None exist on the other side of the criminal justice coin – the “seriousness” of the offence.  AdVIC believes it is time to now redress this imbalance.

2.6       AdVIC therefore regards starting tariffs for homicide offences as a first important step. The mandatory “life” sentence should now be abandoned for murder (more correctly labeled “the minimum seven-year sentence”).

 

England & Wales – Legislation

2.7       The UK Criminal Justice Act 2003 provides a model upon which fresh sentencing legislative provision with regard to mandatory sentencing should be considered in this jurisdiction.

2.8       Re sentencing, there are four basic starting points for those over 21 convicted of murder (and similar exist for younger offenders):

  • a whole life order
  • 30 years
  • 25 years
  • 15 years

 

Recommendations

2.9      AdVIC recommends minimum starting tariffs similar to the UK model be introduced in Ireland for all GC/NGC murders.

2.10     AdVIC proposes that in tandem, a Judicial Council be empowered to publish suitable guidelines on sentencing.

2.11     AdVIC is not suggesting the abandonment of judicial discretion when sentencing. Under fresh legislation, this discretion would still be available but operating from set tariffs and only with transparent and pre-determined criteria.

 

Conclusion

2.12     Minimum starting tariffs are critical if we are to achieve justice for victims, family and the wider community of GC/NGC

2.13     Society must evidence a minimum level of disapproval when it comes to murder (for example) regardless of individual case circumstances.

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