THE number of prisoners being given temporary release from Cork Prison is increasing.
Fifty people were on temporary release on Tuesday, with 268 inmates in the prison. The average number on temporary release in recent weeks was in the 30s. On May 25, there were 44 on temporary release, with 280 in the prison.
Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, the prison had a daily average of 291 people in custody, although there were days when the numbers exceeded the bed capacity of 296, at the Rathmore Road facility.
The prison is the committal prison for courts in Co Cork, Co Kerry, and Co Waterford.
In 2019, the average number of people out on temporary release was 39.
A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said it is “inevitable” that the number of people in the prison system will increase as Covid-19 restrictions ease, with more people on the move in society.
He said that recent cases of Covid-19 in Mountjoy and Loughan House showed that the virus could still affect prisons, and the focus remains on ensuring distancing between inmates.
One of the methods for that is temporary release, he said.
He added: “We are trying to keep the overall number in custody across the country at 3,800 to ensure social distancing in the prisons.”
He said prisoners granted temporary release adhere to conditions, such as abstention from alcohol, signing on at their local garda station or prison, and observing a curfew.
He added: “It is done on a case-by-case basis and there would be a risk assessment done of each person.”