Opinion: sentencing guidelines can help create a smarter criminal justice system – if we have the courage to seize this opportunity

People generally appreciate that crime has societal causes, rehabilitation should be a core goal of justice, and we can reduce crime by helping people solve problems they face in their lives. In this regard, Ireland has come a long way in recent years. We still largely avoid assuming that harsh punishment makes us safer, a trap some neighbours have succumbed to. We know that punishment does not deter people from offending. Instead, contact with the criminal justice process is too often a dead-end road off which there are few opportunities to turn.