Diverting resources could improve rehabilitation, judge says

Offenders could be more effectively rehabilitated if resources are diverted from “the penal side of the criminal justice system towards the probation side”, a judge has said.

Judge Keenan Johnson made the remarks at Portlaoise Circuit Court while sentencing a man for the attempted abduction of an 11-year old girl.

Judge Johnson said Michael Martin, who has 92 previous convictions, had presented himself to psychiatric services prior to the criminal act in recognition of the fact that he “was in need of help and support”.

He added: “It’s a sad fact of life that in our society there are many people like the accused who have fallen through the cracks and have not been provided with the supports and assistance which would have helped them in their rehabilitation.

“In fairness, State agencies such as the HSE and the probation services, do fantastic work in the area of treatment and rehabilitation of offenders.

“It could be argued that if more resources were diverted from the penal side of the criminal justice system towards the probation side the rehabilitation of offenders might be more effective.

“This is a debate for another day, but something worthy of serious consideration by the powers that be.”

Judge Johnson also said that a focus on rehabilitation over punishment in the criminal justice system could “probably provide society with better outcomes”.