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Written Answers. - Prisoner Releases.

Thursday, 17 October 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 555 No. 4

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 153. Mr. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  the extent to which prisoners are currently released prior to completion of sentence other than on supervised day release; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18746/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell As a result of the additional prison spaces provided over the last number of years, the Prison Service is now in a position to accommodate almost all those sentenced by the courts for the full duration of their sentences. The overall percentage of sentenced prisoners on temporary release has been reduced from a figure of 19% in 1997 to a current figure of about 9% of the total prison population. It is important to bear in mind that these prisoners on temporary release are either on structured programmes, in many cases under the direct supervision of the probation and welfare service, on compassionate release because of ill health or family related circumstances, or are nearing the end of their sentence.

Prisoners are not granted early release as a matter of course and I must stress that the overriding concern in considering applications for temporary release from prisoners is the safety of the public. It is also important to note that all releases are subject to conditions, which in the vast majority of cases include a requirement to report on a regular basis to his or her local Garda station, and that any offender who breaks these conditions may be arrested and returned immediately to prison by the Garda.

Question No. 154 answered with Question No. 44.

Question No. 155 answered with Question No. 40.

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