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Dublin: 1°C Sunday 24 January 2021
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249 prisoners to be released from Irish jails over Christmas

Just over 6 per cent of Ireland’s prison population will be given varying periods of release from jail over the festive period.

Mountjoy prison in Dublin
Mountjoy prison in Dublin
Image: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland

THE MINISTER FOR Justice has announced that 249 prisoners will be granted temporary release from jail this Christmas.

Just over 6 per cent of Ireland’s prison population of 4,111 will be given varying periods of release over the festive period  under the Criminal Justice Act 1960.

The release varies from a few hours – sometimes accompanied by a witness – to up to 7 nights.

The vast majority – around three quarters – of the prisoners given temporary release  are serving their sentences in lower security institutions, including Loughan House and Shelton Abbey Open Centre.

All of the prisoners being released are nearing the end of their sentence. In addition to the Christmas temporary release, some prisoners who are very close to the end of their sentences will be granted full temporary release.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said that the ‘overriding concern’ when considering the applications for temporary release was the safety of the public.

As well as compassionate and humane considerations, the nature and the gravity of the prisoner’s offence is also taken into account, as well as their behaviour, criminal history and prior record on temporary release.

The number of prisoners being granted temporary release has risen slightly in recent years, from 176 in 2009 to 226 last year.

Minister Shatter has previously said that temporary release helps prisoners with their gradual reintegration into society and acts as an incentive for prisoners.

Read: Temporary release of prisoners ‘reduces risk to the community’ – Shatter >

Read: Over half of those released from prison re-offend within three years >

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