Justice minister Charlie Flanagan has published a bill to facilitate reciprocal probation measures between EU Member States
The goal is to enable better social re-integration of those convicted of offences abroad.
When active the Bill should also better protect victims by enforcing probation conditions on non-resident offenders.
It will also reduce unnecessary detention on non-resident by ensuring non-custodial sentences can be enforced in the offender’s home state.
The Criminal Justice (Mutual Recognition of Probation Judgments and Decisions) Bill 2018 was published on 27 July, 2018. It will implement the EU Council Framework Decision 2008/947/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the mutual recognition to judgments and probation decisions.
Minister Flanagan said “These are important measures to assist in imposing and enforcing criminal sanctions on non-residents while maintaining a focus on rehabilitation and reintegration.”
Every year thousands of EU citizens are convicted of offences while temporarily abroad in other member states. The proposals aim to ensure such offenders comply with the penalties or sentences imposed on them while increasing the chances of effective rehabilitation and reintegration into the communities in which they live and to which they will return.
The Bill establishes a system under which the state will recognise judgments and supervise probation measures (enabling early release) and alternative sanctions to detention, issued by other EU countries in respect of Irish residents. The Bill also provides for the transfer of offenders sentenced to probation measures in Ireland back to the member state in which they live.
Courts across the EU can be reluctant to impose non-custodial sentences on non-residents offenders for fear that the person will leave the jurisdiction and avoid punishment.
The Bill will increase the likelihood of probation measures by establishing statutory procedures to ensure the sentence is supervised in the person’s home country.
The Bill empowers the State to impose custodial sanctions for failure to comply with probation conditions and a European Arrest Warrant can be issued if the person absconds.
Publishing the Bill, the Minister said that allowing the offender to maintain ties with family and continue employment or education in their home country will assist in rehabilitation and reintegration and reduce the risk of reoffending, to the betterment of society.