The Department of Justice and Equality has confirmed that 113 prisoners will be granted varying periods of temporary release this Christmas under the Criminal Justice Act 1960. This figure represents approximately 3% of the overall prisoner population. The corresponding numbers released for Christmas in 2016, 2017 and 2018 were 177, 142 and 137 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 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.
The sensitivities of victims has also been taken into account in detailed submissions to the Minister by the prison management who deal with these offenders day in and day out. In certain cases additional specific conditions will apply in relation to cases with significant victim impact.
Furthermore all registered victims with the Irish Prison Service victim liaison service will be informed in the cases where prisoners are receiving Christmas Temporary Release.
The Irish Prison Service will provide an update on the return of Temporary Releases on the 31/12/2019.