Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 27 May 2003

Vol. 567 No. 5

Written Answers. - Release of Prisoners Commission.

Joe Costello


378 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there are plans to release a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14309/03]

The person referred to by the Deputy is serving a sentence of life imprisonment for murder. As the Deputy may be aware, persons serving life sentences for murder may have their case reviewed by the Interim Parole Board after they have served seven years in custody. The board was established in April 2001 to advise me in relation to the administration of long-term prison sentences and replaces the work previously carried out by the sentence review group.

With regard to the prisoner in question his case was reviewed by the sentence review group in November 1999, February 2001 and August 2001. As a result of recommendations received from the group following those reviews my predecessor approved a programme of daily temporary release for work-training purposes for this person from April 2001. He has also been granted occasional periods of release for resocialisation-reintegration purposes. It should be noted that it is a condition of all such releases that he does not return to his home area, where the offence occurred.

In September 2002, the Interim Parole Board, in considering his case, recommended that the programme of temporary release should continue. This recommendation was accepted by me. The Interim Parole Board also set a date of September 2004 for the next scheduled consideration of his case.

I assure the Deputy that I am very conscious of the impact of crime on victims and their families, as indeed are the agencies who advise me in relation to the management of the sentences of life sentenced persons, that is, the Interim Parole Board, the Irish Prison Service and the Probation and Welfare Service. I acknowledge that for every offender there is a victim and although there is no formal mechanism in place to obtain the views of every victim, or their family, the fact is that such views, when made known, are always given due consideration. In this case I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that a member of the family of the victim has been in regular contact with them and has been informed of the general programme the offender is undertaking. Procedures are in place for the immediate family to be informed by the victim liaison officer of any significant change in the administration of his sentence. Such change would include, for example, transfer to more open conditions, permission to travel to his home area, extension of terms of temporary release, and any other major change to his temporary release conditions.

While it is essential that the sensitivities and concerns of victims of crime should be and are carefully considered during the sentence manage ment process, it is also the case that there is a need to rehabilitate offenders and reintegrate them back into society, and a balance must be struck in this regard. This balance is not always easy to achieve. However, I can assure the Deputy that when making these decisions, I do give careful consideration to all aspects of each case.