The Government has announced plans to increase the use of Community Service Orders (CSO) and to allow courts to impose a CSO instead of prison for those who default on fines.
This is a sensible and long overdue move. Hopefully it signals a realisation within Government that it is high time we thought about our penal system differently and, in particular, we kept people out of it when they can be dealt with more effectively and sensibly in other ways.
You can read about the plans here.
The Irish Penal Reform Trust has recently published a position paper on community sanctions. It has also regularly called for an end to imprisonment for fine-defaulting. Read more here.