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Community Service Bill makes sense – Ellis

7 April, 2011 - by Dessie Ellis TD


Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis has said the Criminal Justice Community Service Bill makes sense from a financial perspective.

Deputy Ellis said the Bill should be a part of an overall strategy to get at the root causes of crime and address the glaring cracks in our justice system.

He said:

“It is clear that just locking more and more people up in prison cells does nothing to reduce crime. We have to look at what works, and ensure that justice policy is tied towards addressing the key causal factors of crime – poverty, embedded disadvantage, and entrenched inequality.

“From a financial perspective, this Bill makes sense. The average cost of keeping an individual prisoner in custody for one year at just under €100,000 compares to an estimated cost of €4,295 for a Community Service Order. These are stark figures. There is a high proportion of prisoners serving short prison sentences for offences that do not suggest they are a threat to society, so clearly there are questions to be asked about the cost efficacy of the overuse of custody in the Irish criminal justice system.

“Reducing expenditure on unnecessary incarceration is more economically effective as well as more socially effective. When done properly, a Community Service Obligation can prevent further re-offending by reintegrating the offender in to the community through successful completion of positive and demanding unpaid work. The offender can give back to the community by doing something socially useful.

“This Bill is to be welcomed, but it should really be a part of an overall strategy to get at the root causes of crime and address the glaring cracks in our justice system.” ENDS

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