LEGISLATION WHICH AIMS to cut the number of people imprisoned for non payment of fines was passed yesterday, but it has come with a warning.
Last year, over 8,000 people were jailed for non-payment of fines, but the Fines (Recovery and Payment) Bill aims to cut that number.
The bill was passed yesterday by the Oireachtas and will be signed into law by President Michael D Higgins.
Under the law, it will be possible to pay fines in instalments and ends the practice of automatically sending defaulters to jail.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter says that yesterday was an “historic day” for the fines system and said that the 8,000 figure would be “greatly reduced”.
The Irish Penal Reform Trust, however, says the law is pointless if not fully enforced.
In a statement, the trust called on Shatter to to ensure that all the necessary structures and mechanisms are put in place to fully commence the legislation and “finally bring end the damaging and wasteful practice of imprisoning thousands of people for fines default every year”.
The IPRT says that the recession has massively impacted the numbers being jailed for non-payment, with 411 being jailed for not having a TV licence last year.
They want the minimum fine eligible to be paid in instalments, currently set at €100, to be removed and want fines levied to take a person’s finances into account.