@2010Penal policy making in IrelandPenal policies show discrepancies widely between various nations and have followed no steady pattern in the past 30 years. It is normal, although not, without a number of limitations, using imprisonment per population to measure the sternness of various policies within a jurisdiction as well as transformations over given period of time. In Ireland, politicians, reformist academics, human rights activists and political liberals are involved in the penal policy making process. It is therefore common for these groups to grumble about harsher public opinions regarding crimes and offenders, populist posturing of politicians along with the more oppressive penal policies. Factors Influencing the Decisions of Penal Policy Makers in IrelandPolitical ImperativesThe political aspect has played a significant influence on Ireland’s penal policies with the political dimensions raising a lot of questions concerning power and how much the Ireland government has to do in order to implement the penal policies.
O’Mahony (2000) argues that the political aspects have been pervasive across the many problems involved in the penal policy making process. O’Mahony (2000) argues further that a series of government’s justice ministers as well as parliaments in Ireland have had control over the discreditable mess of Ireland’s penal system’s.
Weaker governments for instance have had to rely on the opposition side or get support from various powerful interest groups so that certain penal policies gain acceptance. Currently, though, there has been great measure of consensus between Ireland’s political parties on various policies as regards law and order, and it is therefore not likely that any party would approve a soft policy due to the fact that the publics’ perception would be hostile to it.
This experience highlights major difficulties facing the Ireland government especially when politicians want to pursue policies in addition to practices thought by the general public as reasonable conflicts with the economic imperative. As a result, political convenience may result into a decision that does not deserve implementing even if money is saved. An example of this a strong Ireland government’s commitment in prison expansion programmes which are expensive but the intentions behind it being to prove to the public that were serious about their crime concerns.
O’Mahony (2000) argues that the final responsibility pertaining to lack of vision for the penal system, lack of corresponding actions, for the awfully poor conditions, as well as the inadequacy of the penal system management lies with the politicians. Public OpinionsPublic opinion acts as a significant variable as it plays a role in shaping responses on crime as well as disorder. Public opinion has had a major influence on Ireland’s penal policies and mostly on the degree of punishment since 1990s. This has more often than not been expressed through their electoral choices, opinion polls, focus groups, or at times expressed by direct demands on sentencers.
Judges for instance have always been receiving letters from discontented members with various complaints regarding sentences (Hood et. al., 2003). For instance, according to O’Mahony (2000) the present social policy in Ireland on the use of imprisonment has had a number of issues with the general public. Majority of the complaints from the public claim the sentences are short and that there is unrelenting imprisonment for absolutely out of place groupings of offenders such as drunks, fine defaulters, homeless persons and other minor delinquents.
Magistrates who carry out the greater part of sentencing perceive themselves as providing public justice, as public representatives and feel that they should react to the public opinions.