Prisoners to get temporary release
A total of 226 prisoners will be granted temporary release for Christmas, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said.
Mr Shatter said the figure represented about 4 per cent of the overall prisoner population.
The numbers released for Christmas in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were 107, 176, 134 and 160 respectively.
The Minister said the increase in numbers this year was representative of the successful roll-out in all prisons of the Incentivised Regimes policy, which provideed for "a differentiation of privileges between prisoners according to their level of engagement with services and quality of behaviour".
Of the prisoners being released this year, about 75 per cent are prisoners serving their sentences in the lower security institutions.
"The prisoners being released are nearing the end of their sentences and the overriding concern when considering the applications is the safety of the public. In addition to compassionate and humane considerations, other criteria taken into account include the nature and gravity of the offence, length of sentence served to date, prior record on temporary release, behaviour while in custody and previous criminal history," Mr Shatter said.
"In general the periods of release vary from a few hours (in some cases accompanied by another responsible person) up to seven nights. All releases are subject to stringent conditions and any offender who breaks these conditions may be arrested and returned immediately to prison by the gardaí."
Bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn is among those being given temporary release for Christmas.