What type of prisoners are most likely to get temporary release from Irish jails?

DRUG dealers and thieves are the most likely offenders to benefit from temporary release from jail.

More than 270 men and women have been freed from prison early from their sentence, the majority of them permanently.

Of the criminals given early release, 33 of them were serving jail terms of at least five years meaning their crimes were at the more serious end of the spectrum.

The figures, provided by the Irish Prison Service under FOI, give the most detailed picture yet available of who gets let out early from their sentence.

Two sex offenders are on their list, both of them aged over sixty, and prison sources said their release was on long-term compassionate grounds.

The longest serving inmate on temporary release was a man aged in his fifties who was convicted of “homicide offences”.

He was given a jail term of more than ten years, which was due to finish in November of this year but has been let out six months early.

Twenty people serving sentences for serious assaults, threats to murder, harassment, and other related offences were also let out on temporary release.

They include two women, both of whom had remission dates later this summer but who were allowed leave jail early.

Overall, 29 women – serving time for offences like robbery, burglary, assault, drugs, and theft – were out before the end of their sentence.

Capacity issues at the state’s two female prisons, Dóchas in Mountjoy and the female wing in Limerick, mean temporary release is more frequently used than in male prisons.

In general, drug dealers were the most likely to get out early with 61 offenders guilty of “controlled drug offences” among those released.

Their sentences ranged from just a few months up to ten years. Of the group given temporary release, 21 of them were serving at least five years.

Sixty people convicted of “theft and related offences” were also out, most of them in the short sentence category.

Of the sixty, almost half were serving jail terms of less than twelve months.

Another person on the list was a drug dealer serving a sentence of more than five years in Dublin’s Wheatfield Prison. The man – who is aged in his thirties – was not supposed to be out until January 2019 but is already on temporary release.

Another 32 prisoners, who do not have official release dates until 2018, are already out of prison according to the data.

However, most of the offenders listed were supposed to get out of jail at some stage this year and have had months rather than years trimmed from their sentences.

The prison with the most people on temporary release was Mountjoy with 85, followed by Cork on 48, and Limerick with 33.

The figures were provided as a snapshot of a single day in June by the Irish Prison Service.

A similar breakdown of a date last December was also released, painting a similar picture but when over 320 people were on temporary release.

The Prison Service said most of the 272 people on temporary release were on “a structured release plan”.

That means they will not go back to jail unless they fail to fulfil the conditions of release and are now effectively free.

Thirty-three of the people on release however, were offenders sent to jail for non-payment of fines.

Under current arrangements for dealing with this type of offender, they are simply processed at a jail and automatically released without ever actually spending a night in a cell.

The Irish Prison Service said use of temporary release helped with resocialisation, participation in employment schemes, and treatment for drug or alcohol issues.

They said: “It is worth noting that the number of prisoners on temporary release has fallen dramatically in recent years from a high of 998 [in June 2010] … to the current figure of circa 270.

“Each application for temporary release for whatever reason is examined on its own merits and the safety of the public is paramount when decisions are made.”

Conditions are also attached including “being of good behaviour and of sober habits”, steering clear of pubs, nightclubs, and living at a specific address.

The Prison Service said: “Other conditions may also be imposed, such as staying away from the victim or a particular area, observing a curfew, being supervised by the Probation Service, partaking in employment or in supervised unpaid work.”

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