Rise in number of prisoners on temporary release for Christmas


More prisoners will be granted temporary release for this Christmas than in previous years. The figures – released by the Department of Justice last night – represent approximately 4 per cent of the total prisoner population.

Some 226 prisoners will be granted varying periods of temporary release, as compared with 160 last year, an increase of 40 per cent.

The corresponding numbers in 2008, 2009, and 2010 were 107, 176, and 134 respectively. A spokesman for the department said the increase could be attributed to “the successful roll-out in all prisons of the incentivised regimes policy”.

The scheme provides 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, approximately 75 per cent are prisoners serving sentences in 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,” said the spokesman.

“In addition to compassionate and humane considerations, other criteria taken into account include the nature and gravity of the offence, length of sentence served, prior record on temporary release, behaviour while in custody and criminal history.

The periods of release vary from a few hours up to seven nights.