THE number of people on temporary release from Cork prison is close to 60 in recent days.
According to the Irish Prison Service, the number of inmates on temporary release on Monday was 56, while there were 57 on temporary release last Thursday.
The number has been rising steadily in recent weeks, with 44 on temporary release at the end of May.
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 Cork, Kerry and 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 restrictions ease, with more people on the move in society.
One of the methods used to maintain social distancing in the prison system is temporary release.
There are currently more than 3,800 prisoners in the Irish prison system.
In a report published on Friday, the Office of the Inspector of Prisons said: “The reduction in the number of persons in custody in Irish prisons is reflective of measures taken to prevent and reduce transmission of Covid-19. Early and temporary release was applied to an increased number of prisoners described as ‘low risk’ and who were assessed on an individual basis.
"While the Inspectorate welcomes the overall reduction of the prison population, the total number of persons in custody would need to be below 3,000 to ensure single-cell occupancy in Irish prisons; a measure which would aid in transmission prevention.”
Prisoners granted temporary release will have conditions they have to adhere to, such as abstention from alcohol, a requirement to sign on at their local garda station or prison, and observing a curfew.
Selection of prisoners for temporary release is done on a case-by-case basis, with a risk assessment done of each person.