Cormac O’Keeffe, on the front page of the Irish Examiner, reports that a Council of Europe survey (SPACE I) of prisoner population figures compiled from over 50 European states reveals that Ireland is ranked second highest for the rate it releases inmates from prison, and fourth highest in the EU for the rate it sends people to prison.
The report’s figures reveal a very high turnover rate of 81 per 100 prisoners, compared to a European average of 51; this places a major administrative burden on an already overstretched prison service. This high volume of committal and release also militates against effective risk management systems being put in place to prepare the release of vulnerable prisoners.
The Irish Examiner also noted that the survey reveals the average time served is three months in Ireland compared to an overall EU average of 10 months. IPRT has consistently reported that short-term prison sentences for minor offences are ineffective and damaging, allowing prisoners no option to take part in rehabilitation or drug treatment programs, and causing serious disruption to family life, housing and employment.
The survey also reveals that Ireland imprisons a higher number of young people and juveniles than the European average; while only 1.2% of Irish prisoners are serving sentences for white collar crimes compared with a European average of 4.1%.
A second Council of Europe survey also details the number of persons placed under the supervision of probation agencies in more than 50 European states (SPACE II).