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Question

453. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide in tabular form the number of prisoners currently on temporary release broken down by prison; the type of offence the prisoner was convicted of; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1407/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the tables below.
On 13 January 2015 there were 536 prisoners (12.4%) on temporary release across the prison system. This included 136 prisoners who were serving less than 3 months solely for the non-payment of a Court ordered fine and 199 prisoners who were on structured temporary release programmes such as the community return Programme or Community Support Scheme.
The legislative basis for making decisions on temporary release are fully set out in the Criminal Justice Act 1960, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003.
A prisoner may apply through the prison Governor for consideration for temporary release. Their family or their legal representative can also apply for consideration of such a concession. It is very important to note that it does not necessarily follow that a prisoner will receive temporary release even if the recommendation made by the prison authorities and/or therapeutic services is to that effect. Each application 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.
The Deputy will be aware that the Irish Prison Service Three Year Strategic Plan 2012-2015 and the Joint Prison Service/Probation Service Strategic Plan 2013-2015 includes working towards the objective of ensuring that all prisoners released early from custody are placed on appropriate structured programme of temporary release.
The Community Return Scheme is an initiative whereby carefully selected prisoners, serving sentences between 1 year and 8 years, can be granted reviewable temporary release coupled with a requirement to do community service work such as painting, gardening or graffiti removal in a supervised group setting. The type of work involved is intended to assist the community and the scheme is involved with a large number of charitable organisations and local community groups.
In addition to Community Return, a community Support Scheme has also been introduced to reduce the current recidivism rates of short term prisoners by arranging for additional support structures post release and by providing for a more structured form of temporary release.
Table 1. Breakdown by Establishment

Establishment Total
Castlerea Prison 39
Cloverhill Remand Prison 22
Cork Prison 97
Limerick Prison 70
Loughan House Place Of Detn. 16
Midlands Prison 50
Mountjoy Prison ( Female) 33
Mountjoy Prison ( Male ) 108
Portlaoise Prison 4
Shelton Abbey Place Of Detn. 7
Training Unit Place Of Detn. 26
Wheatfield Place of Detention 64
Total 536

Table 2. Breakdown by Offence Group
Offence Group Description Total
Homicide Offences 2
Attempts/Threat to Murder, Assaults, Harassments and Related Offences 55
Dangerous or Negligent Acts 24
Kidnapping and Related Offences 3
Robbery, Extortion and Hijacking Offences 23
Burglary and Related Offences 24
Theft and Related Offences 85
Fraud, Deception and Related Offences 11
Controlled Drug Offences 157
Weapons and Explosives Offences 8
Damage to Property and the Environment 8
Public Order and Social Code Offences 20
Road and Traffic Offences 88
Offences re Government, Justice Procedures and Organisation of Crime 8
Offences Not Elsewhere Classified 20
Total 536