116. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the provision of an open prison option for female prisoners; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7225/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I wish to advise the Deputy that in March 2014, the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service published a joint strategy on female offenders entitled "An Effective Response to Women Who Offend".
The Strategy sets out how the two Services will work together and contains a commitment to explore the development of an open centre/open conditions for women prisoners assessed as at low risk of re-offending. This approach was also recommended by the Strategic Review of Penal Policy which reported in September 2014.
A subgroup was appointed in 2014 by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service to consider this matter. The group conducted an examination of the female prisoner population in order to establish how many persons may be suitable for open centre conditions and to ascertain their geographical locations, and gave considerations to a number of possible locations for an open centre.
The group has submitted a report to the Director General for his examination of the various options and this process of deliberation is currently ongoing.