Mick Wallace #Ukraine has many problems and the Government will not solve them if they are going to allow far right Neo Nazi gro… https://t.co/HZ8K8Gyzfl
Mick Wallace RT @GUENGL: “Addressing forest fires requires a radical change in our agricultural policy. We need legal measures to stop deforestation and…
Mick Wallace The growth in Inequality is the most striking achievement of European Governments over the last 40 years. It didn't… https://t.co/7XiUHk4ze4
Mick Wallace #Ukraine Foreign Affairs Minister Vadym Prystaiko is ok with Communist Party being banned and yet thinks it's fine… https://t.co/qBoJaHc5od
Mick - DailSpeaking on the Criminal Justice (Community Service) Bill on Tuesday, April 19th, Mick welcomed the proposed legislation. These measures will serve to make community service an alternative to short prison sentences. In his speech Mick outlines that this legislation will help to ease the pressure on an overcrowded prison system as well as keep offenders out of a system which rarely reforms them. You can read Mick's speech below or watch it in full here. This legislation is good because the use of community service orders as an alternative to prison can only be positive. The Bill is, therefore, a step in the right direction. Of the people I know who have gone to prison, few emerged as better people. Unfortunately, the use of imprisonment has not had the desired effect on many of those sent to prison. While some are sent to prison to keep them out of harm’s way or because they are a danger to society, many others are imprisoned in the hope they will come out of prison as better people. Sadly, this is seldom the case. The prison system is seriously overcrowded. In January 4,500 people were in prison, double the number who were in prison 13 or 14 years ago. This is a frightening statistic and most of those with responsibility for the prisons agree that there is no chance of achieving positive outcomes in overcrowded prisons. Other Deputies and I met representatives of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, IPRT, which has some interesting ideas on the prison system. According to it, it “has long argued that prisoners cannot be treated in isolation from the communities from which they come and to which they return, and that penal policy must be connected up to relevant policies in the health and social sphere”. For this reason, it regards detention as a last resort than a first option. It would do all of us good to spend some time doing community service as we would learn something and it could make us more healthy social animals. Obliging offenders to carry out community service gives them an opportunity to see and repair some of the harm and damage they have done to their community. This is a positive outcome. The cost of a prison place for one year is frightening. Not only is imprisonment extremely expensive, but it results in poor outcomes. Every day Deputies argue in favour of having more money spent on certain areas. It is ironic, therefore, that we would do a better job in the criminal justice area if we were to decide to spend less money on it. We should require many offenders who would otherwise receive short prison sentences to do work in the community. A large proportion of the prison population consists of people serving short sentences. It is an investment in society to have offenders working in the community. All states spend large sums tackling problems caused by poverty, crime, alcoholism, drug addiction and social exclusion. The State should focus on addressing the root causes of such problems rather than throwing money at them. I look forward to the day the Government shows a greater interest in tackling the root causes of problems such as inequality. It was interesting to hear a leading US economist state last week that inequality had played a part in the financial meltdown we experienced in recent years. Looking at the bigger picture, if the Government were to decide to address the root causes, it would abandon measures to cut the numbers of resource teachers for Travellers and learning and language support teachers. These teaching staff are vital to ensuring we have a healthy society. We must invest in our young people to ensure they are less likely to fall by the wayside, become involved in crime or succumb to addiction. By investing properly and ensuring each child is given an opportunity to maximise his or her potential, we will minimise the number of problems in society. The decision to save €24 million by cutting the number of resource teachers for Travellers is about to create major problems for primary schools. I implore the Government to reconsider this proposal which will come into effect in September. It will not be good for society, particularly given the small amount of money involved. If we are serious about preventing crime rather than bashing those who commit it, we should not impose cuts in such areas.

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