Criminals, Data Protection and the Right to a Second Chance
(2017) 58 Irish Jurist (ns) 27
37 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2018
Date Written: September 6, 2017
In 2016 Ireland belatedly introduced legislation to allow for the expungement of adult criminal records and, in doing so, highlighted a changing technological and legal context which challenges the assumptions underlying rehabilitation laws. The potential impact of convictions on individuals’ life chances has increased as mandatory vetting has become more widespread. Even where vetting is not required, internet search engines render criminal histories easily accessible to curious third parties. In the other direction, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) have developed privacy and data protection principles which require states to limit the availability of information about old convictions. In this article we outline the limitations of the Irish legislation and use it as a case study to consider these wider issues, examining how it illustrates the growing importance of European privacy and data protection norms in national criminal justice and rehabilitation systems.
Keywords: spent convictions, rehabilitation, data protection, privacy, criminal records
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation