Number of offenders granted release before spending single night in prison

Number of offenders granted release before spending single night in prison

In some cases offenders have spent as little as two or three nights in prison out of sentences of a number of months.

SOME offenders from Cork who have been sentenced to Limerick’s female prison have not spent one night there because of lack of space.

Legal and prison sources have confirmed to The Echo that there has been increasing pressure on prison spaces, particularly for women, in recent weeks.

One source said: “The revolving door system is back.”

In the female prison in Limerick on Wednesday, there were 27 inmates in a facility that has a capacity for 28.

There were 22 offenders on temporary release.

In recent weeks, women have been transported to Limerick from courts in Cork, processed and then granted temporary release immediately, without serving even one night in the prison.

In other cases, offenders have spent as little as two or three nights in prison out of sentences of a number of months.

Meanwhile, in Cork prison, there were 71 people on temporary release, while there were 258 in custody in the 296-inmate facility.

While Cork was at less than 90% capacity, sources said that the numbers on temporary release from the prison have increased in recent weeks to allow for Covid-19 distancing restrictions within the prison.

One solicitor said that a focus should have been put on building up the prison estate instead of redevelopment of courts.

He criticised the closure of Spike Island prison and added that the former Cork Prison building on Rathmore Rd should have been refurbished and converted into a women’s prison for Munster.

A statement from the Irish Prison Service said: “The Irish Prison Service has in place a Prison Population Management Plan aimed at identifying rising prisoner numbers.

“This includes a cell capacity audit across the prison estate and the use of temporary release and transfers to open centres. The current bed capacity of the prison estate is 4,375.

“The construction of a new male wing and standalone female prison in Limerick prison is due to be completed in 2022, this will provide 90 additional male and 40 additional female new spaces.”

There are no other capital projects planned for the prison estate at present.

The statement said there is strict conditions for the granting of temporary release, particularly those who are granted it at the start of their sentence, with the severity of the offences being a high factor.

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