Ms Sharon Walker

PhD in Law candidate



Sharon Walker (LL.B, LL.M) is a PhD candidate in the School of Law at NUI Galway.  Her research focuses on sentencing patterns used in relation to female offenders and is supervised by Dr Conor Hanly. 


Research Interests

  • Criminal law sentencing
  • Criminology and penal policy
  • Punishment theories and aims
  • Prison alternatives


Research Projects

PhD Thesis

“An Investigation into the Increased Use of the Committal to Prison Sentence on Female Offenders”


The study aims to provide a comprehensive investigation into the increasing number of committal sentences resulting from minor offences through default, breach or refusal of an alternative punishment. As custody levels do not reflect the growth of this retributive sentencing pattern, this research seeks to highlight and explain this trend.  The objective is to contribute to the development of an effective penal policy to proportionately manage this offending minority.



Research Publications

  • Dublin Institute of Technology and Trinity College Postgraduate Criminology Conference (March, 2015) Is the Disproportionate Rise of Female Prisoners Linked with Disproportionate Sentencing?
  • University of Liverpool International Postgraduate Legal Conference (January, 2016) The Disproportionate Increase of Female Prisoners in Ireland
  • Work in Progress Seminar Series, NUI Galway School of Law (March, 2016) The Disproportionate Increase in Female Prisoners in Ireland and the Gap Between Policy and Practice
  • NUI Maynooth 10th North-South Criminology Conference (June, 2016) The Limitations of Proportionality in the Irish District Court and the Risk of Disproportionate Punishment for the Vulnerable Offender
  • British Society of Criminology Postgraduate Blog (June, 2016) The Disproportionate Increase of Female Prisoners within a Penal System Structured on Proportional Punishment

Teaching Areas

  • Criminal Law I & II
  • Torts Law
  • Business Law