Principles of sentencing: some recent developments

AuthorTom O'Malley
PositionB.A.(NUI), M.A.(NUI), LL.B.(NUI), LL.M.(Yale), B.L. Senior Lecturer in Law, NUI, Galway
For the historian of modern Irish sentencing law, the
first and last decades of the 20th century are by far the most
interesting. In fact, it is tempting to say that little happened in
between. The early years of the century witnessed profound
policy and legislative changes in the treatment of both child
and adult offenders, changes that were reflected in the
Probation of Offenders Act 1907, the Children Act 1908 and
the Prevention of Crime Act 1908.1 These developments were
influenced in large measure by the work of those positivist
criminologists who had sought, by use of scientific methods,
to show that crime, like other human behaviour, was often the
product of factors outside the actor’s control.2 The last
decade of the 20th century brought a renewed energy in
sentencing reform, though this time the emphasis was on
severity rather than leniency, as is evident from the terms of
the Criminal Justice Acts of 1993 and 1999 and, more
recently, the Sex Offenders Act, 2001. However, the closing
years of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st have
also witnessed a growing and welcome tendency on the part
of the Superior Courts to issue detailed and thoughtful
judgments on sentencing principles. This article deals with
two of those judgments, Finn3 and Redmond,4 both of which
2001] Developments in Sentencing 51
4 Court of Criminal Appeal, unreported, Hardiman J., 21 December,
3 Supreme Court, unreported, Keane C.J., 24 November, 2000.
2 See Vold, Bernard and Snipes, Theoretical Criminology (4th ed., 1998),
particularly Chapters 3 to 7.
1 See Garland, Punishment and Welfare: A History of Penal Strategies.
* B.A.(NUI), M.A.(NUI), LL.B.(NUI), LL.M.(Yale), B.L. Senior
Lecturer in Law, NUI, Galway.

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