Home > Seanad Éireann debate - Criminal Justice (Rehabilitative Periods) Bill 2018: Second stage.

[Oireachtas] Seanad Éireann debate - Criminal Justice (Rehabilitative Periods) Bill 2018: Second stage. (13 Feb 2019)

URL: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/seanad...


Senator Lynn Ruane:I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."I thank the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, for his presence. I am extraordinarily proud to be able to introduce the Bill which will expand and make fairer access to spent convictions. I thank my colleagues in the Civil Engagement group for facilitating the debate; the Office of the Parliamentary Legal Adviser and Ms Sinead Dullaghan for their assistance in the drafting of the Bill; Fiona, Deirdre and everyone involved in the Irish Penal Reform Trust for their Trojan work in forming the policy perspective and all their support in the run-up to the debate, including at the briefing on the Bill in Leinster House yesterday; and Seb McAteer in my office who I can safely say is now an expert on spent convictions for stepping into the breach this week. As I am quite unwell, he had a week of briefings and lobbying to do on my behalf. I thank the Minister and his officials in the Department of Justice and Equality for engaging constructively with us on the Bill and the indication that the Government will not oppose it on Second Stage, for which I am deeply grateful.

 

At its core, the Bill is a reflection of my personal belief that people have the capacity to change, that in most cases they deserve a second chance and that in almost all cases a person is not as bad as the worst thing he or she has done. A person may find himself or herself on the wrong side of the law for many reasons such as exercising bad judgment, suffering from addiction, recovering from a traumatic event or because the key interventions required to keep him or her out of criminality were never available. Therefore, a person who ends up committing and being convicted of a minor crime should always be afforded the chance to leave the offending behaviour in the past and be offered some path to rehabilitation.

 

The State has a responsibility and duty to provide that path. It is a way for the individual to be supported and incentivised to change his or her behaviour and vindicate his or her right to a second chance in life, while also protecting the public interest and public safety. This pathway can be provided through fair access to spent convictions. A spent conviction, sometimes referred to as an expungement, is a conviction for a minor offence that, when certain criteria are met and after the passage of a set period of time - known as the rehabilitative period - becomes spent and does not have to be disclosed when returning to education, applying for a job or being Garda vetted. The need for a spent conviction regime is rooted in the principles of rehabilitative justice and the generally accepted principle that individuals deserve a second chance and the opportunity to move on without the inevitable negative effect involved in disclosing a criminal conviction. This is especially true for young people, on whose life prospects a criminal conviction can have a disproportionate impact. It is commonly accepted that society benefits greatly from the reintegration and rehabilitation of those with a conviction, while reducing recidivism. A spent convictions regime should have these principles at its core.

 

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Item Type:Dail Debates
Source:Oireachtas
Date:13 February 2019
EndNote:View
Subjects:MM-MO Crime and law > Criminal penalty
MM-MO Crime and law > Justice system
MM-MO Crime and law > Justice system > Court system > Drug court
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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