22 December 2005

Christmas release for almost 300 prisoners


22/12/2005 - 16:57:45

Up to 280 prisoners will be granted temporary release this Christmas, Justice Minister Michael McDowell said tonight.

This figure represents 9% of the prisoner population and is a small reduction on the number released last year, which was 294.

Many of the prisoners being released are nearing the end of their sentences, while others are serving relatively short sentences.

“The overriding concern in considering applications for Christmas release from prisoners is the safety of the public,” Mr McDowell said tonight.

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, if any, and previous criminal history.

The periods of release, under the Criminal Justice Act 1960, vary from a few hours (in some cases accompanied by another responsible person) to up to eight nights.

All releases are subject to stringent conditions, which in the vast majority of cases includes a requirement to report on a regular basis to his/her local garda station.

Any offender who breaks these conditions may be arrested and returned immediately to prison by the gardaí.

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