Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (353)

Joe Costello

Question:

493 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons who are serving sentences in prison for non-payment of fines; his proposals for reducing the number of offenders being incarcerated for such offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25522/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

On 18 October 2004, the number of persons detained in prison custody who were solely serving a term of imprisonment as a consequence of the non-payment of a fine was 15. The Government's legislative programme proposes two Bills to deal with fines which are relevant to the Deputy's question. As a first step, I intend to bring to Government shortly a fines Bill which, although primarily intended to update existing fines and provide a mechanism for indexation, will also include proposals to strengthen the criteria to be used by the courts in assessing the means of offenders before imposing fines and for payment of fines by instalment. In addition, an examination is taking place in relation to the legislative proposals to be contained in a proposed enforcement of fines Bill, the purpose of which is to end imprisonment as far as practicable for non-payment of fines and to provide for new ways to enforce fines.

Question No. 494 answered with QuestionNo. 472.