510. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice if former prisoners (details supplied) had been given extra money by the prison to help them re-enter society; if this extra money was used to buy drugs; and the steps taken to ensure that such funds do not get spent on drugs. [47591/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): As the Deputy will appreciate, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the specifics of any services or supports provided to individual persons in custody or on release.
However, I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that, in general, all prisoners receive the balance of their own funds in their prison account on release. In addition, prior to release, assistance may be requested by prisoners to support them upon their release, which can be provided to them as appropriate from a Hardship Fund that is available to support prisoners during their time in prison and on release. All requests for assistance are considered on an individual basis and look at the length of time in custody, money lodged externally, the immediate needs of the prisoner and other relevant considerations. The amounts disbursed are typically very modest in nature.
It is the aim of the Prison Service that all releases from Irish prisons and places of detention are planned releases to ensure the informed and effective transition of the offender from prison to the community in compliance with statutory, legal and sentencing provisions.
The Prison Service works in partnership with other state agencies to enhance inter-agency arrangements to ensure that every reasonable effort is made to assist a prisoner to access and make arrangements for accommodation, and to ensure that they have appropriate welfare and health supports prior to and after their release.