The Board of the Courts Service established a project to plan for and provide information on sentencing decisions. The project is known as the Irish Sentencing Information System, or "ISIS". It aims to design and develop a computerised information system, on sentences and other penalties imposed for offences in criminal proceedings, which may inform judges when considering the sentence to be imposed in an individual case. The sentencing information system enables a judge, by entering relevant criteria, to access information on the range of sentences and other penalties which have been imposed for particular types of offence in previous cases.
The project is overseen by a Steering Committee of judges, together with an expert on Sentencing Law, appointed by the Courts Service Board.
The Steering Committee conducted a survey of similar systems in other countries and found those in New South Wales and Scotland to be most relevant. A study was undertaken of the Scottish system.
The ISIS database is intended to be descriptive. The information is to assist a judge by providing information on sentences which have been given in previous cases.
All of the factors in the "Comments" field of the cases on this website are matters which were considered by the court in determining sentence.
New Report on Manslaughter Sentences
THE IRISH SENTENCING INFORMATION SYSTEM was established as a pilot project some years ago to plan for and provide information on sentencing decisions. The project is known as "ISIS".
It was designed and developed as a computerised information system, on sentences and other penalties imposed for offences in criminal proceedings, which can inform judges when considering the sentence to be imposed in an individual case. The sentencing information system enables a judge, lawyer or anybody with an interest - by entering relevant criteria - to access information on the range of sentences and other penalties which have been imposed for particular types of offence in previous cases.
This website is freely open to all and contains statistics on sentencing, case law on issues surrounding sentencing, synopses of the decisions of the superior courts on sentencing issues, links to full judgments, and access to searching a database on actual sentences imposed in various crimes and cases.
On March 19th 2013, ISIS published an analysis of manslaughter sentences 2007 - 2012 - accessible from here.
Also this site contains;
- Details and circumstances of crimes, victim impact, offenders’ circumstances and sentences in the Circuit and District courts in a database compiled by researchers over various pilot and set time periods. Over 1,000 records can be searched and compared from the site.
- Synopses of the various rulings of the Supreme Court, Court of criminal appeal, Central Criminal Court and High Court in certain crime and sentences categories, namely; drugs, dangerous driving, undue leniency, rape and sexual assault – over 40 in total.
- Links to the full judgment of the courts in cases in these areas.
- Publication of academic articles on the area of sentencing by experts in the area.
- Detailed statistics as to the outcome of cases in each court.
Pilot Project in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court
The initial data collection phase of this pilot project began in February 2007. Two practising barristers were retained as researchers to collect and collate information on sentencing outcomes in cases disposed of in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Courts, according to criteria approved by the Steering Committee. Information on sentencing outcomes was recorded by the researchers on a template report form. This was then transferred to the website.
The researchers have sought to ensure that the data is representative of sentencing practice in general, in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, by collecting information on cases heard by as broad a selection of judges as possible. The researchers have also sought to collect information relating to a wide a range of offences, although success in achieving this is dependent to an extent on the offences coming before the Court at any point in time. The collection of data in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court concluded in July 2009.
Pilot Project in Cork & Limerick Circuit Criminal Court
A pilot exercise commenced to gather information in the Circuit Courts in Cork and Limerick in 2008 and finished at the end of December 2009.
Pilot Project in Dublin District Court
A pilot project to gather information from a limited number of District Courts in Dublin commenced in January 2009 and finished in May 2009. Data in respect of approximately 100 cases has been collected in respect of District Court cases.
Pilot Project in Court of Criminal Appeal
A pilot exercise to gather information about the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) commenced in January 2009 and concluded in December 2009. Researchers collected data on cases which have been decided by the Court of Criminal Appeal and provided case summaries for placing on the website.
A selection of publications on sentencing have been chosen by the Committee. There are publications on specific aspects of sentencing. There are also articles on this project, the Scottish system, and that of New South Wales.
The Courts Service provided statistics relevant to the issue of sentencing.
The Steering Committee is as follows:
- The Hon. Mrs. Justice Susan Denham, Chief Justice (Chair)
- The Hon. Mr. Justice Michael Peart, Judge of the High Court
- Her Honour Judge Mary Ellen Ring, Judge of the Circuit Court
- Her Honour Judge Rosemary Horgan, President of the District Court
- The Hon. Mr. Justice Esmond Smyth
- Thomas O’Malley, BA, MA, LL.B, LL.M, Faculty of Law NUI (Galway)
This website contains the work gathered by the Steering Committee and the researchers for this pilot project. It is proposed to assess this project.
The future development of the website and the ongoing maintenance and population of the database will have resource implications which will have to be considered in the context of the current financial climate.