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For Oral Answer on : 25/05/2023
Question Number(s): 44 Question Reference(s): 25234/23
Department: Justice
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.


To ask the Minister for Justice if he has examined the community court system operating in New York and elsewhere; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The scheme referenced by the Deputy relates to sentencing and alternatives to detention. I’m sure the Deputy will appreciate that judges are independent in the matter of sentencing, as in other matters concerning the exercise of judicial functions, subject only to the constitution and the law.

In accordance with this principle, the court is required to impose a sentence which is proportionate not only to the crime, but to the individual offender, in that process identifying where on the sentencing range the particular case should lie and then applying any mitigating factors which may be present.

As the Deputy may be aware, a Sentencing Guidelines Committee was established under the Judicial Council Act on 30 June 2020. The Committee is responsible for compiling guidelines designed to increase consistency in relation to criminal sentences.

As Minister, I have no role in relation to the operation of the Judicial Council or its Committees.

There are, of course, a small number of situations where statute has created exceptions to this approach and an important safeguard rests with the Director of Public Prosecutions to apply to the Court of Criminal Appeal to review a sentence she regards as unduly lenient.  

As the Deputy will also be aware, an important component of the Department’s Review of Penal Policy 2022-24 includes plans to increase the range of sentencing options for judges to deal with offending particularly for offending behaviour which would normally attract a short sentence.