New Book on Prison Sentencing

Monday, 21 November 2011

Sentencing: Towards a Coherent System by Tom O’Malley, a Senior Lecturer in Law at NUI Galway, has just been published by leading law publishers, Thomson Reuters.


As prison populations in Ireland and elsewhere reach record levels, governments are being forced to rethink many of the policies which held sway in recent decades, especially in regard to the use of mandatory sentences and rigid sentencing guidelines.


This book provides a detailed analysis of the nature of judicial discretion and claims that a just and effective sentencing system can be devised by retaining this discretion provided it is accompanied by various judicial support systems. It includes a survey of measures adopted internationally since the early 1980s to structure judicial sentencing discretion and argues that, in small jurisdictions in particular, a reasonable balance between flexibility and consistency can be achieved without resort to some of the more drastic measures introduced in the United States and elsewhere.


The book also includes a substantial foreword by Chief Justice Susan Denham who, prior to her appointment as Chief Justice, had chaired the Irish Sentencing Information system project (of which Mr O’Malley was a member) and also the committee which recommended the establishment of a permanent Court of Appeal. In her foreword she notes that a permanent court of appeal would be required if some of the recommendations made in this book were to be implemented.


The author, NUI Galway’s Tom O’Malley, said: “This book is not intended as an analysis of existing sentencing law. Instead, it treats sentencing as an important aspect of public policy which carries heavy social and economic costs. In many cases, those costs are justified but we must always strive to develop and refine policies which will make the system as socially productive and cost-effective as possible. Our School of Law is now part of the College of Business, Public Policy and Law, and I hope that this book will enhance our contribution to public policy discourse, nationally and internationally.”


Mr O’Malley is already the author of leading Irish treatises on criminal law, criminal procedure and sentencing law, and he has recently been invited to deliver a postgraduate course on comparative criminology at the University of Leiden Law School in the Netherlands in spring 2012. 




Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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