CLOSE to 60 inmates of Cork prison were on the streets temporarily in recent days in a bid to alleviate overcrowding in the jail.
The highest number of prisoners given temporary release to date this year was 57 on Tuesday of last week. This figure was just over 15% of the 370 inmates committed to the prison. There were 303 in the prison, which has a design capacity for 296 inmates. As a result, there were seven accommodated on mattresses on the floor.
On Wednesday, there were 54 inmates of the 366 committed to the facility granted temporary release. There were 302 in the prison, meaning that mattress accommodation had to be provided for six.
The numbers are the highest of the year, with The Echo revealing in recent weeks that the highest number had been 53 on temporary release on October 23.
Early last month, the Irish Prison Service revealed to The Echo that among those on temporary release recently were three men who had been sentenced for either attempted murder or making threats to commit murder.
Under the legislation, temporary release can be for just a few hours or for a more extended period.
According to the IPS, 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 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, behaviour in prison and previous criminal history.
Concerns about overcrowding in Cork were heard at the Prison Officers Association conference in Sligo last May.
Throughout the past year, figures in the prison have spiked and the building is regularly at capacity, or overcrowded.