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Irish Examiner: Jobs key to prevent prisoners reoffending

26th February 2010

Article in the Irish Examiner by Noel Baker

HAVING a job on release from prison would be the most likely factor to prevent reoffending, according to young offenders.

Interviews with 60 young people at St Patrick’s Institute for Young Offenders also found a fear of staying in an adult prison would also be a factor in some young people not reoffending. 

Nicola Hughes of UCD conducted the interviews with 60 inmates at St Patrick’s Institute, who ranged in age from 16 to 20 years. The average age was 18, yet 12 of those interviewed were either already parents themselves, or were due to be in the near future. 

Of the 60 people interviewed, just 19 came from homes where their parents were still together; 50 had at least one family member who had spent time in prison. 

Almost half of those interviewed had work lined up post-release, while eight were going into education, but 27 did not have anything arranged. 

Of those questioned, 32 said they would not reoffend, but 10 said they would. Almost two-thirds said they would give up friends and hangouts so as to stay clear of trouble, but others cited boredom as a reasons for getting involved in crime in the first place. 

Ms Hughes also found that the rate of reimprisonment for prisoners permitted leave for family purposes was 43% four years after their release from jail, compared to a 48% for those not granted temporary leave for the same reasons. 

The Irish Youth Justice Service conference heard the only national study into recidivism, or relapse into crime, found that 49% of all prisoners were back in jail four years after release from prison. However, for those aged 20 or younger the recidivism rate was 60%, compared to 40% for those aged 30 and above. 

Meanwhile, the Probation Service revealed that in the first six months of last year 55 people were placed in detention, an increase of just one person compared to the first six months of 2008. 

However, supervised adjournments increased from 44 in the first half of 2008 to 157 in the same period last year. 

Average daily attendance at Probation Service funded projects also rose last year to 217 young people, compared with 115 in 2008. 

The conference also heard from that 90 cases were dealt with the Probation Service’s Mentoring Service last year, while in 2008 958 pre-sanction reports were issued, alongside 725 supervision orders and 35 Family Conference referrals.

Read the article in the Irish Examiner.