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Record Levels of Inmates on Temporary Release

12th April 2010

Article appeared in the Irish Independent on Saturday April 10th written by Barry Duggan and Tom Brady.

Those inmates on temporary release account for over 16pc of the current prison population, which last night reached 4,957 which includes those 822 on TR.

Last year the daily average figure for prisoners on temporary release (TR) was 519, representing 13pc of the overall total. During the year the total number in custody increased by 10pc, or 379 inmates.

But the pressure on accommodation has increased further in the first three months of this year because of the steady rise in sentenced and remand prisoners.

The delays to the proposed new campus at Thornton Hall in north county Dublin -- replacing the Mountjoy complex, and the planned jail at Kilworth in county Cork -- has meant that the authorities have been struggling to cope with the influx from the courts in the past couple of years.

The rise in the strength of the garda force has led to an unprecedented increase in the number of suspects charged while reforms of the legislation and the judicial process have resulted in longer sentences being imposed for serious crime and trials being completed more quickly in the courts.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has acknowledged that the cell-space problem in the longer term will not be tackled properly until Thornton and Kilworth have been built.

Fine Gael justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan said the weekend's temporary releases provided further evidence that the Government did not have a prison policy.

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