Midlands Prison Portlaoise
The Department of Justice and Equality has confirmed that 113 prisoners will be granted varying periods of temporary release this Christmas under the Criminal Justice Act 1960.
Representing approximately 3% of the overall prisoner population, the corresponding numbers released for Christmas in 2016, 2017 and 2018 were 177, 142 and 137 respectively.
Irish Prison Service daily population data on December 20 shows that a further 365 prisoners are also on temporary release.
The periods of release vary from a few hours up to 7 nights. All releases are subject to stringent conditions and any offender who breaks these conditions may be arrested and returned immediately to prison by the Gardaí.
A Department statement outlined the reasons for temporary release and said the impact on victims of crime has been considered.
"Many of the prisoners being released are nearing the end of their sentences and the overriding concern when considering the applications is the safety of the public. In addition to compassionate and humane considerations, other criteria taken into account include the nature and gravity of the offence, length of sentence served to date, prior record on temporary release, behaviour while in custody and previous criminal history.
"The sensitivities of victims have also been taken into account in detailed submissions to the Minister (for Justice) by the prison management who deal with these offenders day in and day out. In certain cases additional specific conditions will apply in relation to cases with significant victim impact.
"Furthermore, all registered victims with the Irish Prison Service victim liaison service will be informed in the cases where prisoners are receiving Christmas Temporary Release," said the statement.
The Irish Prison Service will provide an update on the return of temporary releases on the 31/12/2019.
There were 3,972 prisoners in custody across Irish jails on December 20. The Portlaoise prison campus accounted for about a quarter of the numbers with 840 inmates in the Midlands Prison and Portlaoise Prison accommodating 236. The Midlands Prison was 99% full on December 20.