56. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason that services available to prisoners who have served their sentence and have been released are not made available to prisoners who have been exonerated; his plans to address this imbalance; the number of exonerated persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51617/17]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I can inform the Deputy that there is no statutory basis to provide specific services to persons who have been held on bail but are subsequently released following an acquittal or other wise not convicted beyond that which would be provided to other prisoners, whether on remand, on bail, or upon release.
Part 6 of the Prison Rules 2007 provides for the services which the Irish Prison Service must endeavour to provide for prisoners not serving a sentence. These include accommodation, structured activities and healthcare requirements while in custody. There are also separate provisions under the Prison Rules for unconvicted prisoners in relation to telephone calls, letters and visits.
Because of the unpredictable nature of the time in custody it is not possible to provide pre-release programmes or reintegration programmes to remand prisoners who do not receive a conviction. Remand prisoners can be released by the court at any time. They can also receive bail or have the warrant holding them quashed for any number of reasons. In additional, prisoners can be brought to court and have their case deferred to a later date, resulting in the prisoner being remanded again. This process can occur on multiple occasions in relation to the same case.
For these reasons it is impossible to plan when a remand prisoner may be released, accordingly it is not possible to provide a structured release programme to this cohort of prisoners.
In 2016 there were 2,976 committals on remand or trial warrants. This related to a total of 2,568 persons who did not receive a conviction.