Written Answers. - Prisoner Releases.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

145 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prisoners who have been released prior to serving their full sentence in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17307/03]

As the Deputy may be aware, the provision of additional prison spaces in the past number of years means the Irish prison service is now in a position to accommodate almost all those sentenced by the courts for the full duration of their sentences. Nevertheless, prisoners may still be considered for temporary release in certain circumstances, for example, release under the direct supervision of the probation and welfare service, on compassionate release because of ill health or family related circumstances, or because they are nearing the end of their sentences.

I am advised by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that the information requested is not readily available. However, the Director General will arrange for the figures requested to be forwarded directly to the Deputy once they have been compiled. On a general note though, I can inform the Deputy that the overall percentage of sentenced prisoners on temporary release has been reduced from a figure of 19% in 1997 to a current daily figure of about 8% of the total prison population.