As a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality and the Sub Committee on Penal Reform and Government spokesperson on Justice in the Seanad, I play a role in considering policy in the fields of justice, security, the rule of law, equality, defence and immigration to ensure that Irish society is safe, secure, just, open-minded and impartial.
Currently Ireland administers a system of justice that is retributive which means that if one is found guilty of a crime, one receives a punitive sanction. Whilst we must ensure that violent offenders receive appropriate prison sentences, less costly options for non-violent and less serious offenders must be considered. The current overcrowding in our prisons and the high cost of imprisonment necessitates significant penal reform.
My belief is that justice is not just a question of simply having the right procedures written into law and punishing the perpetrator, rather it is about affording dignity and respect to all parties in the justice process with the aim of reducing re-offending and overall crime rates.