86. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the issues that are taken into consideration for temporary release or community return application for a prisoner; if An Garda Síochána is consulted during the course of the consideration of the application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10656/17]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can advise the Deputy that the legislative basis for making decisions on temporary release and temporary release for the purpose of engaging in the Community Return Scheme is fully set out in the Criminal Justice Act 1960, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003. Temporary release is an important vehicle for re-integrating an offender into the community in a planned way.
The Community Return Programme is an incentivised early release scheme co-managed by the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service. The Programme targets well behaved prisoners serving sentences of between 1 and 8 years imprisonment who are making genuine efforts to desist from reoffending. Prisoners serving sentences of less than one year are ineligible for Community Return and may instead be considered for release under the Community Support Scheme. Persons serving sentences of over 8 years generally fall within the Parole Board process.
Each application for Temporary Release or Community Return is considered on its individual merits and a number of factors are taken into account when making a decision on whether to grant temporary release including:
- the nature and gravity of the offence to which the sentence being served by the person relates;
- the sentence concerned and any recommendation made by the Court in relation to the sentence imposed;
- the period of the sentence served by the person;
- the potential threat to the safety and security of the public should the person be released;
- the person's previous criminal record;
- the risk of the person failing to return to prison at the expiration of the period of temporary release;
- the conduct of the person while in custody or while previously on temporary release;
- any report or recommendation made by the Governor, the Garda Síochána, a Probation & Welfare Officer, or any other person whom the Minister considers may be of assistance in coming to a decision as to whether to grant temporary release;
- the risk that the person might commit an offence during any period of temporary release;
- the risk of the person failing to comply with any of the conditions of temporary release;
- the likelihood that a period of temporary release might accelerate the person's reintegration into society or improve his prospects of obtaining employment.