The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has published figures on recidivism rates among prisoners released from custody of the Irish Prison Service in 2008. The CSO used a combination of data from both An Garda Síochána and the Irish Prison Service in compiling these figures. The data looks at both the rate of re-offending ('recidivism') and the total numbers of people who have re-offended within three years of release in the year 2008 (the '2008 cohort'), with comparisons to equivalent data on re-offending among those released in 2007 ('2007 cohort'). Overall, the rate of recidivism has fallen from 55.3% for the '2008 cohort' to 51% among the '2007 cohort'.
The document includes details of the type of offences the offenders committed originally and what type of offence they committed in the subsequent three year period from release in 2008. Furthermore, there is a breakdown of data on recidivism, with categories such as gender, age, initial offence type, and time period until subsequent offence.
The IPRT welcomes the publication of this data, which helps to inform evidence-based penal policy. Coordination of data collection and research across all the criminal justice agencies is hugely important to the development of such policy. However, there are some points of concern arising from this data. The trend shows that recidivism is highest among young male offenders under the age of 21, at 57.7%, with lower rates in each subsequent age group. This is in line with academic research which demonstrates that offending rates naturally decrease with age. In addition, a large proportion of subsequent offences happen within a short time span after release (64.2% of all recidivists re-offend within 6 months of release, rising to 87.9% of male recidivists under 21). Further research and resources must be directed towards diversion of young males away from criminality, especially in the first few months after release.
CSO, press release for 'Prison Recidivism, 2008 cohort'
Irish Examiner, '51% of criminals reoffend, says CSO'
Department of Justice and Equality, 'Minister Shatter welcomes the publication of the CSO Irish Prison Service Recidivism Study for 2008 cohort'