419. 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, by prison; the type of offence the prisoner was convicted of; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13385/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy is aware the Irish Prison Service collates and publishes the prisoner population breakdown on a daily basis and this information is available on the Irish Prison Service website www.irishprisons.ie.
A breakdown by prison establishment of those on temporary release is set out in a table. I will write further to the Deputy in relation to statistics on the other matter raised by him.
On 30th March 2015 there were 504 prisoners (11.4%) on temporary release across the prison system. This included 133 prisoners who were serving less than 3 months solely for the non-payment of a Court ordered fine and 178 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.
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 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 - Breakdown by Establishment
|Cloverhill Remand Prison||16|
|Mountjoy Prison (Female)||31|
|Mountjoy Prison (Male)||100|
|The Training Unit||25|
|Wheatfield Place of Detention||56|