Tuesday, 7 December 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
181. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the recidivism rate of prisoners who have been released over the past five years by length of term served, including prison terms of three months or less; six months; 12 months; 18 months; two years; three years; five years; seven years; and ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46386/10]
Minister for Justice and Law Reform (Deputy Dermot Ahern): I wish to advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service does not collate statistics in relation to recidivism rates. However the Irish Prison Service facilitated a major study of prisoner re-offending by the UCD Institute of Criminology, published in December 2006. The study is based on 19,955 prisoner releases that took place between 1 January 2001 and 30 November 2004. This is an enormous sample on any view. The study found that 27.4% of released prisoners were serving a new prison sentence with one year. This rose to 39.2% after two years, 45.1% after three years, and 49.2% after four years. The fact that over 50% of prisoners did not re-offend within four years of release, compare well internationally and was considerably less than figures about by commentators over the years.
The Irish Prison Service provides a range of rehabilitative programmes which have the dual purpose of providing prisoners with purposeful activity while serving their sentences and encouraging and equipping them to lead productive lives on release.
Prisoner rehabilitation involves significant multidimensional input by a diverse range of general and specialist services provided both by the Irish Prison Service and in-reach statutory and non-statutory services. These services are important in addressing offending behaviour, drug and alcohol addiction, missed educational and vocational opportunities, anger management, and self management in the interest of encouraging positive personal development in prisoners, and preparing them for re-integration and resettlement on release from custody.
The Irish Prison Service places a strong emphasis on access to educational services and on the provision of work and training activities for prisoners. Educational services are available at all institutions and are provided in partnership with a range of educational agencies in the community including the VECs, Public Library Services, Colleges and the Arts Council. A significant expansion of vocational training programmes has taken place in recent years and there are now over 90 workshops in place in our prisons capable of catering for in excess of 800 prisoners each day.
The Irish Prison Service is rolling out a fully coordinated Integrated Sentence Management system (ISM) across all prisons and places of detention. The core goal of ISM is to move to a prisoner centred approach to the management of custodial sentences. ISM is to identify, deliver and measure appropriate interventions to address the identified risks and needs of prisoners. ISM is currently operating in ten prisons): Arbour Hill, Castlerea, Cork, Dóchas, Midlands, Mountjoy, Portlaoise, St. Patrick’s Institution, the Training Unit and Wheatfield. Currently, 730 prisoners are engaged in ISM. It is intended to provide ISM to all newly committed prisoners with sentences of one year and upwards.
In addition, the Probation Service has an active role in helping prisoners maintain links with family and community agencies and encouraging them to address their offending behaviour while in prison and in supporting them in efforts to avoid re-offending post-release.
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