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at large

Here's how many prisoners were given temporary release since 2009 ... and never came back

Many are still deemed “unlawfully at large from custody”.

SOME 428 PRISONERS failed to return after being granted temporary release from 1 January 2009 until 7 November last.

So far this year, 146 prisoners have not returned to jail – more than double last year’s figure of 61.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald revealed the figures in the Dáil this week when answering a parliamentary question asked by Fine Gael TD Brian Walsh.

Fitzgerald said that “processes are in place in the Irish Prison Service to inform An Garda Síochána when prisoners become unlawfully at large and the gardaí have the power to detain, arrest, and return such persons to prison”.

A spokesperson for the Prison Service said that there are “no definitive reasons” for the jump in numbers of prisoners not returning from temporary leave in 2014.

He added that some of the 428 prisoners were tracked down or brought in by family members, but could not put a figure on how many.

The majority of people (46) who failed to return from temporary release so far this year were serving sentences for theft and related offences.

Seven people who were in prison for attempted murder or threats of murder didn’t return as scheduled, and neither did ten people who were doing time for drug-related offences.

Here’s a breakdown of the prisoners who failed to return from temporary release since 2009:

temporary release stats

*to 7 November 2014

In October 2012, the Director General of the Irish Prison Service established a project team to examine how the organisation might reduce the number of prisoners who are unlawfully at large from custody.

Fitzgerald said that the team would continue to work closely with An Garda Síochána and the Department of Social Protection in this regard.

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