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Prison Service

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 March 2022

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Questions (592, 594, 601)

Peter Burke


592. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Justice the policy for early release of prisoners from prison; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11636/22]

View answer

Peter Burke


594. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Justice the terms under which prisoners are released early from their prison terms; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11638/22]

View answer

Patrick Costello


601. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice when the last time the rules for temporary release sheets were reviewed; and when the next review is due to take place. [11660/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 592, 594 and 601 together.

I can advise the Deputy that the legislative basis for temporary release is set out in the Criminal Justice Act 1960, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003.  All applications for temporary release are assessed by the Irish Prison Service on a case-by-case basis.  It is important to note that the safety of the public is paramount when decisions on temporary release are being made.   

Before a final determination is made a number of factors are taken into account including -

- the nature and gravity of the offence to which the sentence relates

- the sentence concerned and any recommendation made by the Court in relation to the sentence imposed

- the person's previous criminal record

- the potential threat to the safety and security of the public should the person be released

- the risk that  the person might commit an offence during any period of temporary release

- the risk of the person failing to comply with any of the conditions of temporary release

All temporary releases are subject to conditions and any offender who breaches his or her conditions may be arrested and returned to prison immediately by the Gardaí or may be refused another period of temporary release.  The conditions for Temporary Release are set out in Statutory Instrument No 680/2004 (Temporary release) Rules 2004 and there are no plans to review the rules at this time.

The Irish Prison Service is working towards the objective of ensuring that all prisoners released early from custody are placed on an appropriately structured programme of temporary release.

In this regard, 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 under the supervision of the Probation Service.    

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.