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Seven young offenders released as judge rules kids should get remission too

The ruling by a High Court judge today closes a gap in the law which meant teenagers had to serve full sentences, even though adults don’t.

SEVEN YOUNG OFFENDERS are to be released from a detention centre after a High Court judge ruled that children are entitled to remission of sentences in the same way that adults are.

The ruling by Mr Justice Gerard Hogan at the High Court today closed a gap in the law which meant teenage offenders had to serve full sentences, even though adults don’t.

Currently adult prisoners become eligible to be released once they have served 75 per cent of their sentence and are of good behaviour. Remission is not automatically granted; however, in practice, it is  given to the vast majority of adult prisoners.

The State had maintained that children detention schools are different from the adult prison system.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has taken legal advice following today’s judgment.

Two offenders have already been released from the Children Detention School in Oberstown, near Lusk, where offenders aged 17 and under are held, on foot of the court hearing. Five others are due to be released shortly.

The judgment will be examined to see if any other legal steps are necessary beyond releasing young offenders who have served 75 per cent of their sentences, the Department said tonight. It did not rule out possible amendments to the Children Act of 2001, which does not provide for a system of remission.

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said education and familial supports have already been put in place for the release of the children from Oberstown who will be affected by the change.

“I have taken note of the ruling today by Mr Justice Hogan, and have arranged for 7 releases of children who are considered to come within the scope of the judgement at present,” she said.

“I welcome the fact that management in the Children Detention Schools have already put the necessary arrangements in place for the release of those children affected, in terms of the individual family, educational and health needs of each child in the community. Contingency planning in relation to this case has seen arrangements for their planned release accelerated in recent days”.

Today’s legal case on the detention of a young person in Oberstown Boys School was taken under Article 40 of the Constitution, which deals with personal rights.

Read: After five-year delay, work finally begins on new youth detention centre in Dublin >

Read: Officers who mistreated teens at St Patrick’s will not move to Wheatfield >

Read: Juvenile offenders were sent to their rooms for up to 2 hours a day >

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