The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Michael McDowell, T.D., announced today that approximately 230 prisoners will be granted varying periods of temporary release at Christmas under the Criminal Justice Act 1960.  This figure represents approximately 7% of the prisoner population and is a significant reduction on the number released last year, which was in the region of 280 prisoners.

The prisoners being released are nearing the end of their sentences and the overriding concern when considering the applications was the safety of the public. In addition to compassionate and humane considerations, other criteria taken into account include the nature and gravity of the offence, length of sentence served to date, prior record on temporary release, behaviour while in custody and previous criminal history.

The periods of release vary from a few hours (in some cases accompanied by another responsible person) up to 8 nights. All releases are subject to stringent conditions, which in the vast majority of cases includes a requirement to report to his/her local Garda station. Any offender who breaks these conditions may be arrested and returned immediately to prison by the Gardaí