The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, TD, announced today that 249 prisoners will be granted varying periods of temporary release this Christmas under the Criminal Justice Act 1960. This figure represents approximately 5% of the overall prisoner population. The corresponding numbers released for Christmas in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 were 176, 134, 160 and 226 respectively.
In addition to those being granted a period of Christmas temporary release, some prisoners who are very near the end of their sentences, will be granted full temporary release. Some other prisoners will also be facilitated with inter prison visiting during the Christmas period. Of the prisoners being released this year, approximately 75% are prisoners serving their sentences in our lower security institutions: the Training Unit Semi-Open Prison; Loughan House and Shelton Abbey Open Centres and the vast majority are on an enhanced regime level.*
The prisoners being released are nearing the end of their sentences and the overriding concern when considering the applications is 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.
In general the periods of release vary from a few hours (in some cases accompanied by another responsible person) up to 7 nights. All releases are subject to stringent conditions and any offender who breaks these conditions may be arrested and returned immediately to prison by the Gardaí.
23 December 2013
Note to editor;
*Incentivised Regimes were introduced on a phased basis across all prisons in 2012 . Incentivised Regimes provides for a differentiation of privileges between prisoners according to their level of engagement with services and quality of behaviour while in custody. The objective is to provide tangible incentives to prisoners to participate in structured activities and to reinforce good behaviour, leading to a safer and more secure environment. There are three levels of privilege - basic, standard and enhanced. Examples of incentives offered to prisoners include different levels of gratuity, extra telephone calls and increased amount and duration of visits.