Cork Prison overcrowding: More than 40 prisoners given temporary release 

Cork Prison overcrowding: More than 40 prisoners given temporary release 
Inside of Cork Prison

MORE than 40 prisoners were given temporary release in recent days, including three who had threatened or attempted to murder, as overcrowding becomes a growing problem at Cork Prison.

The latest figures show there were 43 inmates on temporary release last Friday, mainly due to overcrowding.

The prison only has capacity for 296 offenders, but even after the temporary releases were given, there were still 301 inmates, with five sleeping on mattresses on the floor.

Last Thursday, there were 45 prisoners on temporary release, while a further 302 remained inside the prison.

Figures from October 23 revealed there were 53 offenders given temporary release — the highest number this year.

A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said that 12 offenders jailed for drug crime were among the 45 released on Thursday.

The 45 also included the three jailed for murder threats or attempted murder, nine for thefts, six for burglaries, seven for road traffic offences, one for fraud, two for damage to property and the environment, and three for public order offences.

Under legislation, temporary release can be for a few hours or for a more extended period.

The spokesman for the Irish Prison Service added: “Candidates for temporary release are identified by a number of different means but primarily on the recommendation of the prison governor or the therapeutic services in the prisons.

“The prisoner can also apply for consideration of such a concession.

“Recommendations are also made in relation to long-term sentence prisoners by the Parole Board.

“It is very important to note that it does not necessarily follow that a prisoner will receive temporary release even if the recommendation is to that effect.”

The Irish Prison Service spokesman said the criteria considered for granting temporary release include the safety of the public, the nature and gravity of the offence, the length of sentence already served, their behaviour in prison, and previous criminal history.

Director of the Cork-based Support After Crime Services, Sally Hanlon, said the provision of temporary release to offenders convicted of threats to murder, or attempted murder, is a big concern.

“Imagine if someone had threatened to kill you and you went through the rigours of the court process, and then hear about that person being granted temporary release,” she said.

Concerns about overcrowding in Cork Prison were heard at the Prison Officers Association conference in Sligo last May.

Throughout the past year, numbers in the prison have spiked and the building is regularly at capacity or overcrowded.

The deputy general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, Jim Mitchell, said the association does not want temporary release to be used as a tool to free up prison spaces.

“If you do not have to behave yourself in order to get temporary release, there is no incentive to behave yourself,” said Mr Mitchell.

“We thought overcrowding in the system had been buried a long time ago but it is back with a vengeance.”


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