Housing crisis linked to repeat criminality by Irish Prison Service

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

The Midlands Prison PortlaisePicture:  Finbarr O'Rourke

The Midlands Prison in Portlaoise

Homelessness and the housing crisis is contributing to repeat criminality, according to the new strategic plan from the state agency responsible for running prisons in Portlaoise and other parts of Ireland.

The new Irish Prison Service Strategic Plan 2019 – 2022 reveals that the population is now regularly more than 4,000. It highlights the impact of homelessness. The strategy says people who are homeless upon release are more likely to re-offend.

“A lack of housing is one of the reasons cited for reoffending amongst those returning to the Irish Prison Service. Access to housing is key to securing access to wider public services, including health and welfare for those leaving our custody,” says the Strategy.

The service's position is endorsed by the Irish Penal Reform Trust in its response to new CSO figures which show that 45.8% of people released from prison in 2012 reoffended within 3 years.  Almost half reoffended within the first 6 months and two-thirds within the first 12 months of release from prison.

 In response, IPRT is calling on Government to introduce a statutory obligation on housing, health, social protection, education and employment to co-operate around prisoner release. This will improve outcomes for individuals released from prison, reduce reoffending and make communities safer.

Fíona Ní Chinnéide is Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust.

“What happens immediately outside the prison gates is critical. Put simply, if someone is released from prison into short-term hostel accommodation or homelessness, the outcomes are less likely to be positive.

"We are calling on Government to introduce a statutory obligation across departments and agencies responsible for housing, health, social protection, education and jobs to co-operate around prisoner release. This will reduce reoffending and make communities safer, she said.