142. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the resources she allocated to the community return programme; and her plans to expand it and the categories and number of prisoners inelligible under it. [12658/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Community Return Programme is an incentivised early release scheme co-managed by the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service. It commenced in October 2011 and is now operational in every county and from every prison in the State. The Programme has been supported by the reallocation of resources and key personnel from within both services.
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. The legislative basis for making decisions on temporary release is fully set out in the Criminal Justice Act 1960, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003. Each application is considered on its individual merits and in line with the legislative provisions