23rd December 2015

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms. Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., confirmed today that 204 prisoners will be granted varying periods of temporary release this Christmas under the Criminal Justice Act 1960. This figure represents approximately 5% of the overall prisoner population. The corresponding numbers released for Christmas in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were 226, 249 and 242 respectively.

Many of the prisoners being released are nearing the end of their sentences and the overriding concern when considering the applications is the safety of the public. In addition to compassionate and humane considerations, other criteria taken into account include the nature and gravity of the offence, length of sentence served to date, prior record on temporary release, behaviour while in custody and previous criminal history.

The periods of release vary from a few hours (in some cases accompanied by another responsible person) up to 7 nights. All releases are subject to stringent conditions and any offender who breaks these conditions may be arrested and returned immediately to prison by the Gardaí.