Thursday, 23 May 2013
Department of Justice and Equality
155. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide details regarding the joint Irish Prison Service and Probation Service feasibility study on pre and post release programmes for short term prisoners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24885/13]
The Deputy may be referring to the recent launch of the Community Support Scheme in Mountjoy Prison and The Dóchas Centre. This pilot initiative has been set up in response to the overcrowding problems and in an attempt to address the recidivism levels of those serving sentences of under 12 months. The Community Support Group will consist of a number of prison-based personnel as well as a Community Support Worker. This scheme follows on from an initiative set up in Cork, the Unlocking Community Alternatives Scheme, which aims to reduce the current recidivism rates of short-term prisoners by arranging for additional support structures and provide for a more structured form of temporary release. The primary aim of the Community Support Scheme is also to reduce the current recidivism rates by arranging for additional support structures and provide for a more structured form of temporary release. This is a pilot scheme and will be reviewed in 12 months to assess whether it has had a positive impact on reoffending rates. The group will engage with prisoners shortly after committal and will seek to identify risk factors, make appropriate referrals and prepare a sentence management plan in each case.
The Group will focus on working with prisoners from the Dublin area who are serving between 6 and 12 months by helping them with issues such as housing, medical care, substance abuse and training needs. The aim is to increase support to prisoners prior to their release from prison, upon their release and then for a period after their release to help break the cycle of reoffending. Offenders will have the option of being considered for temporary release conditional on them engaging with this scheme. Those who signal their wish not to engage will instead remain in custody until their sentence is complete. The Community Support Worker will continue to meet offenders following their release from custody to provide support to the participant and build on sentence planning, including referral to appropriate agencies and supports. In addition, progress and compliance with temporary release conditions will be monitored and Prison Service Headquarters will be receiving feedback on how the participants are faring in their return to the community.